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Posts Tagged ‘damage control’

AT&T CEO Issues Apology for 9/11 Promo Tweet

Lots of brands released tweets of questionable taste accompanied by the #NeverForget tag and 9/11 references yesterday, but no one received as much flack as AT&T, which posted an image of the “Tribute in Light” as seen through the camera on its smartphone. The brand obviously takes its reputation seriously, because today Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson issued a statement of apology:

Many in the PR and marketing communities found the original message to be relatively tame despite the general outrage that consumed Twitter for a few hours. So what about the apology: did he need to make it? Will it be enough?
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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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Whoops: Subway’s ‘Footlong’ Doesn’t Quite Measure Up

Subway SubmanHey, what’s an inch between friends?

If it contradicts the selling point behind your signature product, it can be a big deal. So when a curious Australian Subway customer discovered that his “footlong” sub sandwich was, in fact, only 11 inches long, he decided to vent his frustration in the most modern way: he took a picture of the offending item beside a ruler and posted it on the company’s Facebook page along with the simple request “subway plz respond.”

And then, of course, everybody went nuts.

So is this a PR mess, or what?

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Israeli Fashion Biz Bans Too-Skinny Models

Milan Fashion Week A basic fact: many criticize the fashion industry for filling its runway shows and ad campaigns with models whose body mass indexes lie a few miles south of healthy. Has this supposed PR problem damaged the power or standing of the fashion and beauty business? Not that we can see. But it has led to lots of posts on the ways in which the industry’s history directly promotes unhealthy life choices (despite Karl Lagerfeld’s laughable claim that “nobody works with anorexic girls”).

Now Israel’s fashion industry has decided to follow the lead of Milan Fashion Week and counter its poor reputation by insisting that designers and advertisers only hire models within a given body mass index range and that they disclose the use of “altered images of models to make… women and men appear thinner than they really are.”

OK, we understand the well-meaning desire to push the fashion industry and limit its reliance on ultra-thin women to showcase the work of top designers. But is this really an effective way to improve the businesses practices and reputation (and to help young women develop healthy relationships with their own bodies), or is it just a way for regulator to sleep better at night? Do any of those who closely follow fashion really care about the obvious prevalence of eating disorders within its ranks? Color us skeptical.

Top 10 PR Crises of 2012 via Solomon McCown

In this video exclusive, crisis communications expert and Solomon McCown & Company president Ashley McCown reviews her top 10 PR crises of 2012. Her top cases range from athletes on trial to deep-fried chickens for traditional marriage. Do we agree? Disagree?

Goldman Sachs PR Chief Dishes on Damage Control

Many media outlets have labeled Greg Smith’s investment banking expose Why I Left Goldman Sachs disappointing; some in the financial industry have gone so far as to call him a classic “con man”. That doesn’t mean Goldman’s top PR guy Jake Siewert can rest easy.

A veteran of the Clinton administration and former adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Siewert signed with Sachs earlier this year to help the firm’s principals “put the mistakes of the financial crisis behind them” and improve their company’s public image.

Mere days after Siewert’s hiring announcement, The New York Times published Greg Smith’s defamatory op-ed decrying the Goldman Sachs culture of greed as “toxic and destructive”—so you might say he hit the ground running.

Most of Siewert’s damage control efforts over the past six months have amounted to “off the record” conversations defending the firm’s reputation, but yesterday he sat down with New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose to discuss the politics and challenges of reputation management.

We won’t reprint the entire interview, but here’s an interesting tidbit on why Goldman chose to shoot the messenger:

“Why not just issue a generic statement saying, ‘Goldman Sachs is committed to serving its clients’ needs’ and leave it at that?

That hasn’t worked out so well in the past. And frankly, we didn’t know what was in the book.”

Siewert is predictably guarded, but it’s still worth a read.

PR pros: How big is the challenge facing Siewert? Was Goldman right to attack Smith?

Tim Cook Is, Like, So Sorry for Apple Maps

The public doesn’t know Apple as a company prone to apology. We imagine its communications team would be far more comfortable issuing a statement to the effect of “the obvious superiority of our products speaks for itself, hahaha”. Hey, we understand—apologies acknowledge the imperfections that come with being human, and CEO’s aren’t generally too big on humility (with good reason).

And yet, CEO Tim Cook felt the need to release an official statement to customers today in order to control the spread of bad publicity stemming from the awfulness that is Apple Maps.

We can’t imagine Cook enjoyed writing this little letter, and we wonder what finally led him to draft it: Was it Motorola’s viciously effective #iLost ad? Was it this hilarious tumblr page? We’re not sure, but we do admire Cook’s ability to acknowledge that his company made a completely terrible product!

Readers should note Cook’s unreservedly apologetic tone in writing that Apple “fell short on this commitment”. Unlike the other big “damage control” missive released this morning, Cook’s note includes the word “sorry”. A real-life apology! We just might be impressed!

Cook promises to get to work on improving the map app, and we’re sure that a few programmers have had anxiety attacks this week–but what will the CEO’s next move be?

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Is the NFL Commissioner’s ‘Regret’ Note Good Enough?

First the big news you’ve already heard: The NFL and its Referees Association reached an agreement late Wednesday, and the 120 “certified” referees were back on the gridiron to officiate last night’s Browns-Ravens game.

We won’t go into the details of the contract, which involves freezing pension plans after 2016 and offering specific retirement benefits to all officials starting in 2017. Both sides apparently “conceded ground”, but we’ll get to the heart of the matter: Fans will gladly say goodbye and good riddance to the hated “replacement” refs—and we have no doubt that the NFL is happy to have resolved the issue as well.

Now it’s time for damage control—and Roger Goodell appears to be going all out.

On a conference call yesterday, the NFL Commissioner said he was “…sorry to have to put our fans through that”. He followed up today with a formal email message to all fans on the NFL’s mailing list.

Forbes notes that it’s “not an apology”, and it’s true that Goodell only expresses “regret”. He doesn’t mention the universally panned calls that ended the Packers-Seahawks game, and he even goes so far as to “commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances.”

Hmm…call us crazy, but we don’t think many of the fans Goodell is targeting with this letter will appreciate that sentiment.

We’ve reprinted the full text below:

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