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Crisis Communications

Walmart Comms VP ‘Fact Checks’ The New York Times

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The purpose of New York Times writer Timothy Egan’s op-ed on income inequality last week was to highlight the inability of our political parties and corporate entities to reach agreement on the best ways to help the millions of working Americans who struggle to provide themselves and their families with the basics.

Egan unsurprisingly singled out two names for blame: the Republican Party and Walmart.

David Tovar, sometime PRSA speaker and VP of corporate communications at the retailer, decided to respond in blog form–and he got a bit cattier than expected. His intro:

“Tim – Thanks for sharing your first draft. Below are a few thoughts to insure something inaccurate doesn’t get published. Hope this helps. – WMT”

Well, then. Full red-ink revision after the jump.

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Target (Almost) Apologizes to Canada

Target wants the nation of Canada to know that they’re “disappointed” in their own performance–and they’ll definitely do better next time.

Last year we reported that the retailer’s northern expansion had failed to convince the Canucks not to shop at Walmart, and this week the company attempted to hit the “reset” button with this clip:

The executive team leader says the problem was all about getting product on the shelves, but we’re not so sure; the primary factor behind the lackluster numbers seemed to be the fact that Walmart is still cheaper and more convenient when it comes to the basics.

Here’s the big one: the Target corporation lost more than one billion dollars in 2013 and fired its president of Canadian operations in May.

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5 Tips for Creativity in Times of Crisis or Controversy

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Today we bring you a guest post by Howard Bragman, founder and chairman of Fifteen Minutes PR.

This post is part of an ongoing series.

Like many in our profession, I sometimes feel like the guy at the circus juggling plates on the ends of sticks. It looks precarious, but like the guy under the big top, I am happiest when there is a lot going on.

Over the past several years, I’ve had three primary jobs: 1.) Chairman and Founder of Fifteen Minutes, a Los Angeles-based PR firm that specializes in consumer brands, entertainment and crisis/controversy clients; 2.) Vice Chairman of Reputation.com, the largest and category-creating online reputation management company; and 3.) Network and cable broadcast news contributor, providing my take on the reputational events of the day.

My PR and crisis work often involves people and companies seeking to prevent or assuage a whirlwind of damaging press.

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Where’s the Beef? Whole Foods Has 4,000 Pounds of Meat Recalled for Mad Cow

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Moo, damnit!

America is going healthy, which is why stores like Whole Foods Market are so popular these days. I shop there for most of my produce and dead animals (shout out to PETA), but some unfortunate news may cause loyal shoppers like me to reconsider those options for a while.

According to the Los Angeles Times, by way of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there has been a massive two-ton beef recall over fears of possible contamination with substances that could lead to bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

That’s “Mad Cow,” which equals two more words: Crisis communicationsRead more

Verizon to Netflix: ‘No, You’re Slow!’

Netflix might just be too clever for its own good.

Earlier this week, the company confirmed that it had gotten a bit cheeky with Verizon, its partner in the love/hate net neutrality dance.

Netflix, in the face of what might resemble extortion from a certain angle, recently agreed to pay for the right to “direct access” to Verizon customers in order to ensure that its videos stream at optimum speeds. The company signed a similar deal with Comcast.

Of course, we can see why Netflix might want to gripe about this fact, and they chose a sly way to do it. But Verizon wasn’t amused. Their statement after the jump.

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The Number of People Killed by GM’s Defective Switch Will Soon Rise

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We’re all aware that General Motors is one of the world’s most challenging clients right now–and we can sit around all day and wonder why the company’s preferred strategy for dealing with its ongoing recall crisis can be summarized with the word “stonewall.”

But a report released by Reuters today indicates that this horrific story has only just begun.

The crux of GM’s defense holds that thirteen people–and only thirteen people–have died in accidents involving the infamously defective ignition switch that shuts down cars and their airbag mechanisms mid-drive.

Unfortunately, that number will change soon.

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#PRFail: Even History Proves the Washington NFL Team Owner is Lying

snyder funny or dieIt’s not a new debate in the world of sports. And it’s a reinvigorated debate in the world of PR.

Should the NFL team in Washington D.C. change its offensive name? Granted, to many people in the nation’s capital, the “Washington Redskins” may not be an offensive term because they are sports homers. That’s to be expected.

And then, there’s Daniel Synder, owner of the team and principle emeritus officer of living in la-la land.

This is a team that carries an 80-year tradition of classic football has always carried this cloud over its headdress. And why? Because that’s the way it’s always been? Try again, because history has just corrected that very sentiment — back from the dead.

 

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Is Instagram Now ‘the Best Crisis PR’ Tool?

That’s what Maureen O’Connor of New York magazine’s fashion blog The Cut claimed this morning.

The idea is that celebrities in crisis mode are turning to Instagram, rather than more traditional press outlets, to let the public know that they’re ON IT and they GET IT. No biggie.

O’Connor’s key example is Beyoncé, who first responded to the we’re-already-sick-of-this Jay Z elevator story not by issuing a press release or scheduling an interview but simply posting a bunch of pics of herself with both her husband and her sister, Solange.

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She even posted an image of herself with Rihanna, the subject of various rumors regarding the reason for the fight.

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Will the Statement Released by Beyoncé, Solange and Jay Z End All the Elevator Talk?

bey solangeIt’s the elevator fight that rocked the internet! Of course, I’m talking about the silent clip of Solange going after Jay Z at The Standard Hotel following the Met Gala. After many days of silence, we finally got a statement, sent to the AP.

“As a result of the public release of the elevator security footage from Monday, May 5th, there has been a great deal of speculation about what triggered the unfortunate incident. But the most important thing is that our family has worked through it. Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family.”

In other words, “that’s all, folks”. Nothing to see here. We won’t be taking any questions.

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Crisp Thinking Promises to Prevent Your Worst Social Media Nightmares

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We’ve already established the fact that social media screwups can affect even the most infallible among us.

Such failures may be an accepted risk of doing business in the digital realm–but wouldn’t you like a little more in the way of security to ensure that your client doesn’t pull a U.S. Airways?

UK-based company Crisp Thinking started as a provider of child protection technologies for Internet service providers, but its latest product promises to deliver the unthinkable by protecting your company and your clients from the kind of missteps that can quickly go viral–and ensure days, if not weeks, of terrible headlines.

Curious? We spoke to founder Adam Hildreth for more details.

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