Posts Tagged ‘crisis communications’


Here’s How to Deal with Negative Comments Onilne

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
via McDonald's Twitter

via McDonald's Twitter

When McDonald’s announced their mascot Happy, an anthropomorphic Happy Meal box with teeth, it quickly became one of the hottest –and most derided – stories of the day for looking “terrifying” rather than cuddly. McDonald’s issued a level-headed response later, and noted that “social media is a great place to have a conversation and express an opinion, but not all comments reflect the broader view.”

McDonald’s later followed that up with these humorous tweets:

Clearly, McDonald’s knows how to roll with – and take advantage of – the punches, because when it comes to social media and online comments, you’re all but guaranteed a certain proportion of negative response. How to deal with the negative feedback? The McDonald’s story and their adroit handling of the reaction is the perfect time to revisit (and update) Johna Burke’s top tips for dealing with negative comments online.

1. Stay calm. Don’t let your adrenaline (fight or flight urge) get the best of you and cloud your judgment.

2. Respond publicly. Mirroring the original format is very powerful. If the original announcement was made on Twitter, put out a public Twitter response; same goes with any other platform. Domino’s Pizza’s viral video crisis and response in 2009 is an excellent case study.

3. Be courteous. Offer acknowledgement or an apology, whichever is most appropriate, with sincerity and gratitude for the opportunity to address the matter. If you run into a troll, refrain from calling them out until you’ve done your due diligence on their misdeed or erroneous feedback.

4. Provide resolution. In some cases this means a refund or some other compensation for the problem. In other cases this will mean “agreeing to disagree” on what is fair and what you can do based on the feedback.

5. Reflect. Consider the following options:

a. Why did this person make their grievance public?

b. Was this the only forum available to address the concern?

c. What are the opportunities you have to improve your product or service to strengthen your relationship with all of your customers?

d. Did you resolve the issue?

6. Be thankful. REMEMBER: Negative can be positive. Your public response will demonstrate your commitment to your clientele. Also, when a customer is talking to you, even if it’s negatively, you are still communicating and can improve the situation.

And, as McDonald’s has shown, a little humor can go a long way.

You can check out Mack Collier’s research on responding to negative comments, and of course, it never hurts to update your social media crisis communications plan.

How do you respond to negative comments, and what recommendations do you have for dealing with them?

It’s In the Stars: Your Public Relations Horoscope

Monday, April 28th, 2014
by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

In lieu of a crystal ball, we’ve consulted the BurrellesLuce “stars” to share what the month of May may have in store for you.

Find your birth month below and share the link with your peers so you’re all “aligned” in May.

January

This is the month to buckle down and start figuring out just what the heck people mean by social media ROI (hint: it’s sort of a misnomer. ROI is a financial figure) and what your metrics and methods are or should be.

February

Knowledge of the recent changes in the AP Stylebook – and an appropriate opinion thereof – can score points in your favor. A journalist who doesn’t have to go in and replace state abbreviations with full state names is a happy journalist.

March

You might be attending a panel, conference, or webinar coming up this month, and you’re in the mood to learn, so if someone tells you something basic like “know your audience” one more time, you might feel the need to deck them with your iPad. But stay patient and listen closely; there are always new things to learn, and buried in the repeated tropes and truisms of the trade will be a piece of advice that could really elevate your practice.

April

This is your month to revamp your social media swagger and take a broom to all your profiles and tinker with SEO and your images. Don’t go overboard with your makeover efforts, though – if you change too much, you’ll alienate a few key brand advocates.

May

You’ve got a lot of prep to do for a looming event or deadline, so hop to it this month. Sit down in a quiet place, put on your mood music, and get to work. But don’t forget to make time to party like you’re one year older.

June

You may be a networking master or shudder at the mere mention of networking, but either way, it’s the month to get yourself out there, so do your awesome but in-a-lull self a favor and attend a couple networking functions this month.

July
Focus on getting through your ever-growing to-do list.  It’s time to change up your productivity habits. Maximize your spring fever by taking some work outside. You’ll feel energized and reap the professional rewards.

August

Get back in touch with an old professional acquaintance this month. You may get not only an entertaining, nostalgic lunch or phone call, but also the chance to help or be helped by your friend. S/he may even let slip a key piece of industry gossip that will shed new light on things.

September

The extra work from clients and colleagues getting ready for summer vacation may be harshing your to-do list mellow, but a little extra planning and a happy hour or two will keep you on top of it. If you’re going on holiday take a cue and start planning ahead. If you’re not getting out of dodge for a few days, maybe you should, and if you can’t, consider a one- or two-day staycation.

October

Man, all these new apps and social media platforms you can barely keep track of make you feel old. So in May, put a little special time in to personal and professional self-improvement. Take a few minutes to find out what all that chatter about SnapChat is about, or learn just what the heck WeChat is anyway.

November

Remember that crisis communications plan you had? Yeah, it’s time to dust that off and review it again. If you just implemented a new or updated plan, consider trotting it out for a dress rehearsal. Don’t brush aside that absolute worst case scenario that has a miniscule chance of ever occurring – if you can think it, it can happen, unless it involves Godzilla (but maybe zombies; that could happen).

December

It might seem like a lot of people are asking you for things. So this month focus on selectively saying no. Some people might not take your polite and reasonable “no” very well, but that’s their problem, not yours. Just don’t get overzealous with your refusals; there are some things that just can’t be refused.

14 Tips for Building Your Social Media Crisis Communications Plan

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
photo courtesy PRNews

photo courtesy PRNews

How long would it take you to get your CEO on the phone at 4pm on a Friday or during a holiday? That was one of the questions Dallas Lawrence (@dallaslawrence) posed during his session, “Crisis and Reputation Management in the Social Age” at the PRNews Media Relations Next Practices Conference last week in Washington, D.C.

One key takeaway from Lawrence included this quote: “From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, good PR efforts have not changed. We are just so tied up in the new platforms that are out there, we forget the basic media relations practices.”

No matter how good your communication department is, it matters how you handle situations as they arise. You could do nothing wrong in today’s social environment and still have a crisis develop; you must be ready for that.

One example that Lawrence mentioned was when someone hacked the AP Twitter account to say there had been a bombing at the White House. Within seconds of that Tweet, the stock market declined for almost 30 minutes until people realized it wasn’t true.  When a crisis such as this occurs, Lawrence suggests looking at three roles social and digital media play during a crisis.

First, social media is an instigator. Were there not a social platform that allows us to send out our every thought, or record every stupid thing that happens, the crisis wouldn’t have occurred.

The next role is that of accelerant. A similar crisis may have happened 20 years ago, but it would not have metastasized so quickly without social media. So Lawrence stresses we must be prepared to act immediately instead of waiting and seeing.

The third and most important role social media plays is extinguisher. We can use social media effectively before, during, and after a crisis to mitigate the damage, and in some cases actually eliminate the crisis.

Social media continues to evolve and grow. There are more than 500 million users on Twitter, more than one billion users on Facebook, and four billion videos viewed on YouTube per day. Everyone knows a social media presence is necessary, so everyone is bombarded with content, and just because you posted a video or press release on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean that anyone cares or that anyone sees it.  Your message must be spot on.

Lawrence stated that 79 percent of companies believe they are only 12 months from a crisis, and 50 percent of those companies believe it will happen in the digital space. The biggest issue facing companies today is the inability to respond effectively to new media (including social media). And yet, only a third of businesses have a digital crisis plan.

If you need to develop a digital crisis plan from scratch, or if you just want to refine your existing plan, here are 14 lessons from Lawrence on how to handle that social media crisis.

1. Once a crisis breaks out on social media, identify your influencers, as they are most likely to impact the conversation. All people in social and digital are not the same, so make sure you know which people have the ability to shape decisions about your company.

2. Actively monitor your reputation and the activities of your protagonist(s) or advocate(s).

3. Avoid the information vacuum. Information spreads as soon as it’s available, regardless of its veracity. You can’t have a press conference every other hour; you have to release news in real time.

4. Develop a clear, effective and platform-appropriate message. Be where your crisis is happening. Craft an appropriate message for the platform on which you respond. If something is happening on Twitter, respond via Twitter first before sending out a press release.

5. Own your brand in social media before someone else does. People are actively stalking and brand jacking.  You should know not only your corporate entity’s brand, but all of your subsidiary brands.

6. A majority of journalists use Twitter for sources. Journalists are getting their news from Twitter in real-time before verifying the source of the story.

7. Make sure to include people, not logos, on your social media accounts. No one wants to engage with a logo, especially in a crisis. We want to talk and hear from someone.

8. Integration is key. It is critical to integrate your crisis communication plan across all channels.

9. Know what you are talking about. Once you lose the credibility it is really tough to get it back.

10. When you blow it, own up to it quickly.

11. When all else fails, don’t forget humor. When you have really gotten in too deep, the best way to recover is humor.

12. Integrate paid and earned media.

13. Have clear employee rules and training for social media engagement.

14. Don’t forget your secret weapon: your employees. They can be your most powerful allies online if you engage and arm them in time.

Do you have a crisis communications plan and would you be prepared to handle a crisis situation at 4 pm on a Friday? How do you manage the speed at which news spreads on social media?

Expect Anything and Everything: Crisis Communications When a Man Falls From a Stadium

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Flickr user mark.watmough

Flickr user mark.watmough

When a man fell from the top deck of Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in Buffalo, N.Y., it’s easy to wonder whether the Buffalo Bills PR team had an action plan in place for such an odd occurrence. The man slid down the railing, flipped backwards, and fell about 30 feet, landing atop and injuring another spectator. This situation serves as an excellent reminder that, thorough though your crisis communication plan may seem, it could probably be a lot more comprehensive. In re-thinking your plan, take a look at what we know about how the team handled this situation.

React fast

As always, a minimal reaction time is essential. Reports say that a staff member responded immediately, and emergency personnel joined soon after, removing the injured men to the hospital. Once the injured men were removed, staff wisely addressed the uninjured fans who had just witnessed the accident. The Bills offered some fans in the vicinity the chance to view the rest of the game from a suite. While only some accepted, offering an immediate solution or an alternative to those affected demonstrates Bills reps acknowledged the situation, showed consideration, and took action.

Take a firm stance that reflect organization rules

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon issued a statement the day after the game, decisively condemning the man’s actions as “irresponsible” and in violation of the Fan Code of Conduct. Brandon then banned the man who fell from ever returning to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills not only responded to the incident within 24 hours, they took a clear, common-sense but no-nonsense stand without shying away from the incident or making light of it.

Though they addressed the situation head on, chances are they weren’t prepared for an incident such as this one. The key is that they stayed true to the rules and ideals of their brand.

Keep a tight lid on released information

Other than official statements and some news stories, there are few details emerging. The names of the injured men, their specific injuries, what exactly happened before, during, and after the fall aren’t readily available. Though we must speculate on what occurred, both in the stadium and in the communications department, it’s clear the Bills expertly contained the story. This is yet another benefit reaped from reacting fast: the story is controlled.

And of course, the key to reacting fast is being prepared. While you may not be prepared for the exact situation, it’s important that all the key players know how to act in a crisis situation and, if they don’t, they should know who to consult or where to look.

Refining your crisis response procedure on a regular basis can only help keep you and your team primed. In addition to creating detailed plans, be sure to designate and train a spokesperson, and maintain a consistent system of notifications and alerts before and during the fact. After the crisis, debrief and assess, and apply it to future crises.

How do you prepare for anything and everything? How do you ensure your crisis plans run smoothly when the unexpected happens?

PR Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving

Monday, November 18th, 2013

PR Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Share of Voice BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

It’s holiday season and you’re stuck (or excited to be) hosting Thanksgiving. Though you probably should have started planning your T-Day PR campaign in July, the week before the big day is as good a time as any to plan your Thanksgiving objectives, PR-style.

Set your goals

As with any PR campaign, the first step is to establish measurable goals. The most common Thanksgiving goal? Feed X number of people. To determine how much of each dish you’ll need, factor in the AVE (Appetite Value Extrapolation) (apologies to the Barcelona Principles) for each dish: determine the average serving size (A), multiply by number of attendees (X), then multiply all that by 1.5 (gluttony quotient) . 1.5AX=Z *

* AVE can drastically underestimate or overestimate standard appetite, especially in the presence of college-age males, and does not account for food allergies, likes, dislikes, or strange diet requests.

If your goal is to just make it through the day with your sanity and reputation intact, you’ll need to drill down into data points to make that measurable, such as: number of dishes broken, number of remarks about your housekeeping skills/cooking skills/weight,  tone of said remarks, prominence of said remarks (how loudly were they spoken? How many people were in the room? Did anyone nod in agreement?), share of voice (how much of the conversation did these remarks account for?), and other customized measurements.

Outreach

To convince people to attend your Thanksgiving (or to discourage their presence), reach out to your communication channels to establish your message. Recruit Mom or a sibling to spread the word that your Thanksgiving will rival Martha Stewart or Pinterest in class and aesthetics.

Since Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide this year, consider giving this year’s celebration a fresh angle: latke-stuffed turkey, matzoh ball stuffing, or a trendy, hashtag-worthy name like #Thanksgivukkah or #Hanukkgiving.

Focus on the features and benefits of your particular shindig. For example: “Guaranteed Turducken,” “Bacon cornbread stuffing,” or “Gluten-free vegan organic dairy-free lasagna,” depending on your audience.

Turn your kitchen crisis into an opportunity

Whether you’re the only one in your Thanksgiving Preparation Department or if you have the help of a number of minions, there’s a good chance of Thanksgiving crisis, say, dropping the turkey, a minor kitchen fire, or a failure to adhere to the promised schedule. This will likely lead to a number of inquiries from hungry bystanders, and if you’re going to avoid T-Day disaster, it’s time to go into crisis mode.

Whatever you do, don’t respond with “No comment.” However, you probably shouldn’t lie with a “No, of course I didn’t drop the turkey.” That will cause more fallout when someone discovers pet fur and an errant penny plastered to their crispy turkey skin.

Instead, turn it into an opportunity:  A simple, “It’s all under control,” or a more creative “I’m trying out a new spice rub.”

Word will spread quickly so you’ll need to contain the story. Don’t discuss the direct problem – turkey on the floor – but discuss your overall strategies. “I’ve been preparing Thanksgiving dinner for years, and have developed a comprehensive system for ensuring hygiene while bringing out the optimal flavors of this over-sized poultry. I assure you I’m constantly working to assess any problems that arise and continue to create safeguards to protect against similar situations arising in the future.”

Run that turkey under some water, sprinkle some salt on it, and remind yourself that when the Pilgrims ate their turkey, it was probably dirtier, and they were fine, weren’t they?