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Posts Tagged ‘bad pr’

How to Fix Your Brand’s Bad Reputation

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So your brand has made a huge blunder. How can you remedy the situation — and fast — to avoid losing your loyal customers?

One of the most important things you can do is to stay ahead of any potential negative stories on social media or cyberspace. Companies can achieve this by setting up Google alerts or even by simply using the Google search bar’s Autocomplete feature.

And if you find that the flub has gone public, it’s essential to have a well-conceived damage-control plan in place before taking that next step.

Sometimes the best fix to a problem is not to respond to the problem at all. Look to see if the offending website that hosts the negative comments about you will gain popularity by the rebuttals from the company or person trying to defend himself — if the site performs on other people’s comments it may be a good idea not to respond at all. Do not feed the fire. Some say the only three laws for reputation management are authority, authority, authority. The more authority you have, the easier it is to make a big difference in where the stories will rank on the search page results. One way to establish authority is through Google Authorship. Any complaints you respond to or original stories you create will appear higher in search.

To hear more tips on how to help repair your brand’s reputation, including how to handle customer complaints, read: 12 Tips on Fixing Your Brand’s Bad Reputation.

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THIS JUST IN: McDonald’s Is America’s Most Hated Company

THIS JUST IN 2Global corporations. National chains. Even the off-shoot regional company.

They each have opportunities to hire tools, treat employees like peons and run their organizations like a sweat shop. It’s tough competition out there, but thanks to a report from 24/7 Wall Street, there’s a new King of the Mountain.

[Timpani Drum Please]

Ladies and gentlemen of crisis communications specialties everywhere: May we present McDonald’s as America’s Most Hated Company! 

Surprised? Of course not, if you read this forum for any amount of time. The franchising, fast-food juggernaut has a super-sized order #PRFail in its 2013 archives…

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So, It Seems ‘Black PR’ Is a Thing

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So yesterday I’m trolling my typical bajillion news sources looking for PR stories and one from the South China Morning Post catches my attention in the way that wandering onto a nude beach and seeing someone’s grandma would catch anyone’s attention. In other words, I wanted to grab a spork and attack my eyes.

Why? I love this profession and I demand much from it (and the people who make a living doing it). So, when I read the term “Black PR” in the headline, I cringed because the phrase does NOT refer to African-American organizations across this country.

No, this is “Bad PR” (which, MEMO to the complete dolts who came up with smear term: ‘Black’ does NOT equal ‘Bad’. I’ll call my brothers in Alpha Phi Alpha, Incorporated to give you a holler. Okay, thanks.)

Let me explain why:

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Easyjet Responds Badly to Critical Tweet

After Barilla’s self-made fiasco, here’s yet another case of a company all but demanding bad publicity. First, law professor and The Drum columnist Mark Leiser saw some questionable service delivered by EasyJet at the airport and tweeted about it. Judging by the company’s response, it’s safe to say they do not take criticism well. Here’s the timeline:

We can see why Easyjet wasn’t happy with that message, but their response made an unfortunate situation so much worse:

This is just strange behavior. Leiser ended up boarding his flight, and Easyjet quickly issued a response after settling the matter with him publicly and privately, but the damage had been done.

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Top PR Pro’s Guardian Q&A Illustrates Familiar Industry Stereotypes, Challenges

In case you missed it, this week The Guardian ran a story penned by Nancy Brenner of MSLGROUP as part of its “A Day’s Work” series. Framed as a “Q&A” with an open comment thread, its headline consisted of a “what do you want to know?” offer to answer any questions readers might have about our industry. An interesting exercise, no doubt.

In the piece itself, Brenner recounts some of the more colorful stories from her time working for Fortune 500 companies and financial brands. Highlights include:

I sometimes compare working in PR to an emergency room.

I have chased reporters into the women’s bathroom to try to get their attention.

And:

I needed to find someone willing to suit up as Raggedy Ann & Andy in the freezing cold, for a minimum of money, and parade outside of the legendary building north of New York’s Madison Square Park to capture the attention of news vans.

But when I heard the Raggedy Ann & Andy toys mentioned as “a hot little Redhead” on television that night, I knew that I helped the client cut through the clutter and raise awareness for their product.

So…a little nutty, but par for the course at many firms. Here’s the thing, though: tales like these often confirm negative stereotypes held by those outside the industry. In the blog world we call it “troll bait.”

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PR Fail: Baker’s Chocolate Draws Facebook Fans’ Wrath

We understand that basic economics and the realities of the market sometimes require brands to change their products. It’s not crazy to cut portion sizes and lower prices accordingly in the interest of stabilizing a business’s bottom line. Hell, we even understand how some isolated retailers might miss the message and continue to sell four-ounce boxes of chocolate for the price of the eight-ounce size.

But telling devoted customers on Facebook that the shrinkage came about to address the fact that bakers “were letting leftover chocolate go to waste” and claiming that, four months later, retailers continue to charge twice the price because of a communications issue with your sales team? That’s just poor form. In fact, it’s bad enough for BuzzFeed to get on your case.

Baker’s Chocolate’s killer headache just got worse.

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Paula Deen’s (Alleged) Racism Goes Viral

Paula Deen sure knows how to stir up trouble, doesn’t she? A recent lawsuit filed against Mrs. Ham-in-the-Face by the manager of her Savannah restaurant contains more than a few barely believable allegations, among them that she and her husband often used the n-word and that:

…white employees were free to use the customer bathroom at the front of the restaurant, but black employees had to use the facilities in the back.

A disgruntled employee stretching the truth? Possibly! But Deen landed herself and her brand in even more hot water today. While answering lawyers’ questions about her supposed desire to host an event catered by an all-black wait staff dressed in Antebellum-era outfits, she described a dreamy “plantation” wedding she wishes she’d planned herself:

The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie…That restaurant represented a certain era in America…I would say they were slaves…I remember saying I would love to have servers like that…but I would be afraid somebody would misinterpret.

Now how could anyone misinterpret that?

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Another PR Fail for Carnival Cruise Lines

We almost hate to pile on Carnival Cruise Lines at this point, but 2013 is turning out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for one of the biggest names in leisure travel. Almost exactly a month after the Carnival Triumph disaster, a second ship lost power while docked in the Caribbean yesterday and left passengers stuck on board with no electricity, no working toilets and no ability to leave despite the fact that the boat was resting next to land.

To its credit, Carnival is getting creative with its problem-solving strategy this time around: the team plans to fly all passengers back to Florida after keeping them on the boat in order to ensure that no one gets left behind. A sensible move, but passengers aren’t happy, and more email quotes about “human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms” and elevators turning “on and off, on and off” obviously amount to very, very bad PR.

A commenter on a previous story made a great point: companies like Carnival often hire “party planner” PR teams that excel at event promotion but aren’t quite as experienced when it comes to dealing with disasters like this one. We’re not sure who’s handling crisis communications for the company right now, but they are about to earn their pay.

Oh, and Carnival might want to move ahead with that “comprehensive review” of the entire fleet. Just a friendly suggestion.

What Happened to The Onion’s Twitter Feed Last Night?

We generally love The Onion for its hilarious headlines and The AV Club‘s great arts coverage (no, we never actually read the articles, but we’re not the only ones). But in the midst of last night’s Oscars ceremony, between Seth MacFarlane‘s musical boob jokes and Jennifer Lawrence‘s wardrobe malfunction, the magazine’s Twitter feed dropped this stunner:

We don’t even know how to respond except to say: what the hell? Sure, MacFarlane was a little out of line when he said–about a nine-year-old girl, mind you–that “it’ll be 16 years before she’s too young for Clooney”. But this was just ridiculous. Was it supposed to be funny? We hope, for the sake of whoever posted it, that he was very drunk at the time (we’re about 99.9% sure it was a he, because no lady we know would ever use that word in public).

We can’t say that we’re offended on her behalf like Wendell Pierce, aka Bunk on The Wire:

But this was definitely the worst attempt at humor we’ve ever seen on behalf of The Onion. And we have a feeling they’ll be issuing an official apology by the end of the day.

A PR Save for Boeing?

And now for an update on what is simultaneously one of the most important and least interesting PR debacles of the year to date: the Boeing Dreamliner controversy. Earlier in the week Japan’s Transport Ministry appeared to give the company an “out” by blaming the new 787′s various technical problems (overheating, smoking engines, flickering lights, emergency landings, yadda yadda) on a “miswired” battery.

Excuse us for being skeptical, but that’s just too easy.

Boeing seems to agree: today officials went to Washington to propose changes in the battery to the Federal Aviation Administration in the interest of creating a more fire-resistant aircraft. Any changes would be subject to FAA approval and the company’s technicians would first have to demonstrate that these changes “ensure safety.”

We can’t see that happening anytime soon, so the Dreamliner will remain a massive liability for Boeing and, arguably, the airline industry in general. It’s all bad news for Boeing and its investors–but does the public really care?

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