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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Dezenhall’

Whose Reputation Suffers from the Mike Daisey/’This American Life’ Retraction’?

Even though the weekly public radio program This American Life had to retract its very popular story about Apple’s Foxconn factory, poor working conditions at Foxconn will continue to be an issue the companies have to deal with.

“Our corporate image has been totally ruined,” said Foxconn spokesperson Simon Hsing in a media interview.

According to Reuters, the story forced Apple (and those who love Apple products) to take a closer look at how those products were being made. The fact that many of the things “reported” by Mike Daisey turned out to be untrue only clears the Foxconn name a little bit.

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Goldman Sachs Faces Off With Shareholders

Goldman Sachs had its annual shareholders meeting in New Jersey on Friday. So Lloyd Blankfein had the chance to sit in front of a room full of investors and explain why he got a $5.4 million bonus last year even though stocks were down 38 percent. Seriously, this guy must have cajones as big as his bald head. At this point, there are no plans for the CEO to step down.

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Crisis Comms Advice for WikiLeaks

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Daily Beast turned to some of the industry’s crisis comms specialist shops – Levick Communcations, Jon Greer Consulting, and Dezenhall Resources – to offer advice to the WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Among the words of wisdom, Eric Dezenhall says “stay focused on your goals and objectives,” Richard Levick suggests the organization should be as transparent as it would like others to be, and Jon Greer says “the messenger shouldn’t become the message.”

Any other advice you’d like to offer Hrafnsson?

PR Advice for BofA via David Letterman

According to FOXBusiness’ Charles Gasparino, Bank of America has organized a team to prepare for what may be disclosed, indicating that it is taking the WikiLeaks threat seriously. spoke with a couple of people in the industry (BofA didn’t comment) to gather suggestions about what the bank should do in case of a data dump.

Brenda Wrigley, an associate professor and chair of Syracuse University’s PR department, says the bank should look to David Letterman, who out-PR’d his blackmail threat by “getting out in front of the story.”

“People ended up feeling sorry for Letterman,” she says.

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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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Will BP’s Brand Ever Recover After Gulf Coast Spill?

nasa - oil spill.jpg

One can’t help but be at least somewhat amused by the contradictory statements following any major crisis, the latest of which being the massive Gulf Coast oil spill at the hands of British Petroleum (BP).

In The Daily Beast, crisis communications expert Eric Dezenhall states in a piece titled, “BP’s Image Will Recover, “…over the long haul, good companies like BP do recover once they find the right balance between good business sense, fundamental decency, and the merits-and pitfalls-of public relations.”

Not so fast, says Rob Anderson, Managing Director at Fenton Communications, the agency that handled Al Gore‘s “An Inconvenient Truth” and many other environmental campaigns over the years.

“It will be impossible for BP to recover from its missteps in the days following this crisis when they mislead the public about the severity of the spill. It has been 10 years since BP rebranded themseves into Beyond Petroleum. It was a promise way ahead of reality and consumers will hold them to a higher standard,” Anderson told PRNewser this morning.

As always, we’re curious to hear your thoughts. Leave them in the comments.

[image via Nasa Earth Observatory]

Crisis Expert on NPR: Toyota Could Turn Around in 5 Years

People around the world just sighed a collective “finally” as Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he was “deeply sorry” for the automaker’s crisis. What was behind the belated response?

Eric Dezenhall, CEO of Dezenhall Resources and author of “Damage Control” was on NPR yesterday to discuss what really happens behind the scenes of a corporate crisis, and debunk widely held myths.

Executives do need to convey compassion and be transparent, but not at the expense of legal concerns. Dezenhall called it the “great tension.” He continued, “it’s a ridiculous cliche that if you just fess up, the problem will go away. I don’t see evidence that this is true. However if you’re cold and aloof, it’s another situation.”

The author, a former Reagan Administration staffer and veteran of very similar campaigns such as Audi’s “sudden acceleration” crisis of 1986 explained that it’s very hard to tell if your plan is working until the dust settles.

The “dream teams” assembled initially, “they’re not dream teams, they’re nightmare teams. No one knows what they’re doing. It’s bedlam.”

Toyota’s bounce-back will take years to see, and it will depend on what its competitors do in response. However, like Apple, it’s noted that Toyota has a good stash of “trust equity” in the bank.

Former NBC Reporter Matthew Berger Moves To PR

Matthew Berger, a former NBC embedded reporter during the 2008 presidential campaign, is joining Dezenhall Resources, Politico reports.

Berger will join as account supervisor. He had previously signed a deal to write a book about former VP candidate Sarah Palin, but the deal fell through as Palin has since released a best-selling book of her own.

Dezehnall specializes in crisis work and CEO Eric Dezenhall is the author of the book “Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management Is Wrong.”

RELATED: Is Tiger Woods In the Weeds? Damage Control Expert Says No

Experts Give Failing Grade to Gov Sanford Presser, with a Chance of Book Deal


South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford illustrated to the PR world again yesterday that politics is the wildest and wooliest area of communications, and many in it are in great need of expert council.

PRNewser solicited analysis of the elements of Sanford’s press conference, including style, substance, delivery and length. Only one expert gave him a passing grade, barely. None were fans of the length, details of his state of mind, and lack of preparation, though one found him attractive.

Agency head Dorothy Crenshaw called it a study in narcissism, and that it made John Edwards’ confession look like a masterpiece of self-restraint and candor. Attempting to compare the level of drama with the Real Housewives of New Jersey, Crenshaw settles on Evita, “you know, crying & Argentina”.

Top crisis guru Eric Dezenhall went with nuts & bolts advice–get off the stage, achieve the goal of making the situation less bad.

Andy Plesser went the post-Blago route, and found Sanford’s performance excellent…if he wants a book & movie deal.

Fraser Seitel, the man who literally wrote the book on PR, grades it an N/A in the wake of such a huge lie.

Jay Strell graded on a curve, giving the “biblical” meltown a D–no message, no clear idea of audience, an unforgivable dereliction of duty to voters

Full responses are after the jump:

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A Slice of Damage Control for Domino’s Pizza


Domino’s Pizza found itself in damage control mode this week, when two employees posted a video of themselves on YouTube, bragging about how they roll behind the counter. If you haven’t heard the details, I’ll spare you. The YouTube video was viewed over a million times in the first day, prompting the company to put up a response Domino’s President Patrick Doyle, and launch a Twitter feed. I general agree with the critics that this was a good move, though I though the use of the word “sacred” was overcooked when talking about a consumer’s relationship with fast food.

I took this one to Eric Dezenhall, CEO of crisis shop Dezenhall Resources. Along with agency partner John Weber, he wrote “Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management Is Wrong” to find out how Domino’s ranked in the annals of PR. The book takes you through the classics cited in MSM articles about crisis, including Tylenol and why that case is misunderstood, Wendy’s finger-in-the-chili, and the mysterious case of the surging Audi 5000s. The pizza chain did ok, according to Dezenhall:

The challenge with the Dominos story is its visual nature and that with the internet, the original sin can last forever. It’s hard to unring this bell in the short-term.

In the long-term, Dominos will be fine. The key is to punish the perpetrators with force, authority and publicity.

This is not a situation where Dominos benefits from going on a “we care” road show. Yes, the company should communicate its safety standards, but it is not served well by overkill because the fact is that these things recede quickly as the next gross-out or Britney scandal surfaces.

People intuitively understand that Dominos gains nothing from disgusting food preparation, so in a sense the company is a victim. One reporter asked me, “What did Dominos do wrong?” Answer: Nothing.

This is the kind of nightmare that could afflict the best-run businesses. This is very different from a situation where a company has a sinister motive to injure or poorly inform the public. Just like Wendy’s with the finger incident (see my book), when the perpetrator is punished, the road to redemption begins.