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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Gidez’

Gidez Promoted to H&K Global Crisis Lead

Hill & Knowlton has promoted Chris Gidez to a new position: global crisis practice leader, reporting to Jack Martin, chairman and CEO of the firm.

Gidez is now part of the senior global leadership team, and will help build and maintain the risk management and crisis business across the network.

Gidez joined H&K in 2005 as head of the U.S. risk and crisis management group. Prior to that, he worked with Chevron.

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Guest Post: Crisis Comms Means Knowing When to Hold ‘Em and When to Walk Away

Another day, another crisis, it seems. But when a crisis arises, is it mandatory that a company react publicly?

Chris Gidez, U.S. director for risk management and crisis communication at Hill & Knowlton, takes a look at two recent case studies – Toyota and Taco Bell – to compare and contrast when a public response is appropriate, or even necessary. One of those circumstances: “The company is backing up its words with actions – e.g., file suit, etc.”

Click through for more.

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Everything You Own Needs to be Returned

Each day it seems we’re assailed with more recall notices. Just in the past week, those with metal hips from Johnson & Johnson unit DePuy Orthopaedics found out they have to send them back. Toyota had another recall, this time involving 1.1 million of its 2005 through 2008 Matrix and Corolla models. And before you return your car, return the GPS because Garmin recalled over one million of its nuvi devices.

Ad Age
asked a few PR professionals about the impact that all of these recall announcements will have on consumers. “The transparency driven by social media is prompting companies to make different decisions about what they do around quality issues than they would have in the past,” said Gary Stockman, CEO of Porter Novelli.

Still, Stockman acknowledges that all of the recalls can have a desensitizing effect. (H&K‘s U.S. director of risk management and crisis communication Chris Gidez also talks about “recall fatigue” in the story.) The magazine conducted a poll of 100 of its readers and found that 24 percent don’t care about the recall messages. Widespread disregard for a recall could have serious consequences for a company as well. Will we see changes in the ways companies make recall announcements because they’ve become so common?

BP’s PR Battle; CEO Says ‘It wasn’t our accident’

The thousands of employees who depend on Louisiana’s $3 billion fishing industry, which provides a third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., according to the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board, are likely not at all concerned with BP’s “image,” even while the company tries to save its brand after the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

“This is an environmental disaster, this is not a public relations opportunity. A crisis is not an opportunity, it is a real problem. No matter what the company does for the foreseeable future, it will be declared to be mishandled,” crisis communications expert Eric Dezenhall told CNBC.

BP has considered a massive advertising campaign to sway opinion but decided against it. “In our view, the big glossy expressions of regret don’t have a lot of credibility,” BP spokesman Andrew Gowers told The New York Times.

Hill & Knowlton US Director of Risk Management and Crisis Communication Chris Gidez told PRNewser today that BP “is in an impossible position, with respect to managing the communications around this.”

“The rush to judgement on this is so enormous and so consuming that nobody wants to hear that this is a complex issue, with many dimensions,” he said.

What about BP CEO Tony Hayward‘s statement, “It wasn’t our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up,” we asked.

“It doesn’t play well for the audiences that want to see someone go to the woodshed,” said Gidez.

Other PR executives have mentioned the irony in the situation, as BP has likely lost the entire value of a supposed $1 billion investment to re-brand the company as an alternative energy leader with the slogan “Beyond Petroleum.

The case study for that campaign is still listed on Ogilvy PR’s website. The agency no longer works with BP, a spokesperson confirmed to PRNewser.

BP is communicating through a recently launched website, and has also dispatched numerous executives and crisis managers to the Gulf Coast region.

After the jump, we’ve posted video of a testy exchange between a BP spokesperson and angry fishermen.

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Toyota Asks ABC News For Retraction and Apology


Toyota is continuing its attack on an ABC News segment by Brian Ross that contained faulty reporting when showing how Toyota cars could produce unintended acceleration.

Gawker posted a copy of a letter to ABC News President David Westin from Toyota’s general counsel, which demands a retraction and apology.

The letter ends with the following statement: “Toyota reserves the right to take any and every appropriate step to protect and defend the reputation of our company and its products from irresponsible and inaccurate claims.”

Chris Gidez, US Director of Risk Management and Crisis Communication at Hill & Knowlton, told PRNewser recently, “it would be a shame if it [Toyota] did not challenge this reporting.”

UPDATE: TVNewser has ABC News’ response.

Is It Wise For Toyota PR To Attack ABC News Segment?

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As TVNewser reports, Toyota yesterday launched a PR blitz aimed squarely at ABC News.

“ABC News and investigative reporter Brian Ross have been delivering the most prominent television reports on Toyota’s recent electronic acceleration system issues,” writes TVNewser’s Kevin Allocca.

Toyota issued a press release titled, “Comprehensive Analysis Raises Concerns About Gilbert Congressional Testimony, ABC News Segment.”

Professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University appeared in the ABC News segment on Feb. 22 that led to widespread awareness of issues with Toyota cars.

In addition, the company held a news conference at their Torrance, Calif., U.S. headquarters, where company officials, an independent consultant and a Stanford University engineer analyzed Gilbert’s experiment and concluded: “No way, no how could this happen in the real world on its own,” reports The Washington Post.

We asked several crisis PR professionals what they thought of the strategy.

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Audi Facing Potential PR Crisis Over Super Bowl Campaign

Our sibling blog AgencySpy points out a potential PR crisis for Audi in regards to their Super Bowl advertising and social media campaign: Green Police.

In the Audi campaign, the Green Police are “officers” that appear in a series of mock PSAs to teach people how to make better choices to protect the environment. However, the Green Police also refers to a group that was affiliated with Nazi persecution and execution of millions of Jews during World War II.

One can imagine that the connection is the last thing Audi, a German company, would want to have made in regards to its new campaign.

However, not everyone thinks the campaign is a crisis communications emergency. “I think it’s a stretch to say it’s fatal to the campaign. I think that’s overblown,” said Hill & Knowlton US Director of Risk Management and Crisis Communication Chris Gidez.

“A lot will depend on how compelling the campaign is,” he said.

Help A Reporter Out Founder Peter Shankman disagrees. He said on Twitter, “Nothing good can ever come from a PR campaign involving Nazis.” Indeed, one would think that even the potential risk of such an association would deter the brand from choosing Green Police as the title of their campaign.

Regardless, Audi would “rather have this problem than Toyota’s problem,” said Gidez, referring to that car maker’s massive recall currently under way.

What the Zhu Zhu Pet Issue Teaches Us About Crisis Communications


In what some are calling a “PR nightmare,” the hottest toy of the holiday season is being reviewed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and could face a recall.

But is it really a PR nightmare, or just a test?

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