Category Archives: Issues & Crisis Management

Crisis Communication Quick Reference

Last week,  Epic PR received an urgent call from a client regarding an explosion that took place in their company’s facility. Emergency personnel were en route (five fire trucks) and the entire building block had been safely evacuated with no reported injuries or fatalities.  The CEO and lead spokesperson was in Europe unreachable at the time, and the company’s staff were still absorbing what had just happened.  Who you gonna call?  Your public relations consultant, of course!

A company’s PR agency is oftecrisis communication vancouver bcn at the top of the list, particularly when there is a good chance that the media will show-up, bystanders are already taking photos and video footage with their iPhones (likely destined for social media channels), and key stakeholders are asking you questions that you’re unable to answer just yet.

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Filed under Issues & Crisis Management, Public Relations General

How to deal with detractors

Most issues have two sides where detractors or naysayers will challenge your point of view – often out in the open.  In a news story, the media strive to create balanced stories or use ‘conflict’ as a news hook so they will often include comment from critics.

Here are some tips on how to deal with detractors:

  • Identify who they are and do your research on them so that you know who you’re dealing with and why. Often people are simply misinformed and they may have misunderstandings about what you’re doing. What do they know and how much do they know? Is it accurate or inaccurate?
  • It’s easier to rebut their criticism pre-emptively in your key messages. This is best done by not leaving gaps in your messages. Continue reading

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Filed under Issues & Crisis Management, PR Planning & Strategy, Public Relations General

Vitaminwater’s exaggerated claims backfire: PR lessons learned

Yesterday I read an article in the Vancouver Sun about how Health Canada is questioning Vitaminwater’s  health claims.  Apparently the product is filled with sugar and uses misleading marketing messages in its advertising and packaging like “defence,” “multi-v,” and “restore” and “nutrition enhanced water beverage” that lead consumers to believe the product is a healthier beverage option than it actually is.

Critics say Vitaminwater is basically coloured sugar water with a few cents worth of synthetic vitamins that is marketed as a beneficial alternative to sugary soft drinks. (FYI: Sugar is indeed one of the main ingredients. A  591 ml bottle of vitaminwater has 32 grams of sugar, compared to 42 grams of sugar in a 355 ml can of Coke and 38 grams of sugar in Sprite.) Continue reading

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Filed under Issues & Crisis Management, PR - What Not To Do!, Product Launches

PR lessons from Tiger Woods

I have been meaning to blog about the recent Tiger Woods and David Letterman affairs / sex scandals that made headline news recently.  By chance, today I read a guest column in the Globe & Mail written by a fellow PR industry colleague that concisely summed up my thoughts on the two incidents so I wanted to share it with you.  The brief analysis of the two gentlemen are excellent case study examples that compare and contrast what not to do and what TO DO when your personal or corporate reputation is at risk.  Rather than write a similar blog post, I’d like to direct you to her commentary here.

In the event this link dies in the near future (this often happens with newspaper websites), I have cut and pasted the story below for you.  One thing is for certain after the Tiger debacle, I no longer think golf is boring!

Small business lessons from Tiger Woods

Originally published on Thurs Jan. 14, 2010 8:26AM EST

Written by: Mia Wedgbury, president and co-founder of High Road Communications, headquartered in Toronto.

Have you had your fill of the Tiger Woods story yet? If not, you’re in luck. It continues to pop up in the news cycle even after all these weeks. Continue reading

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Filed under Issues & Crisis Management, PR - What Not To Do!

Stork Craft recalls 2 million baby cribs

Stork Craft, a Vancouver-area manufacturer of baby cribs, recalled more than 2 million drop-side cribs in North America earlier this week – the largest crib recall in history. The recall was issued because the drop-side of the cribs can become detached in one or more corners resulting in babies and toddlers getting pegged underneath.

Numerous accidents have been reported including four babies dying, 15 infants getting trapped, and 20 babies falling from the cribs with injuries ranging from bumps and bruises to concussions.

Health Canada’s website directed parents to the manufacturer’s website and toll-free number, while the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission information line issued a general voice recording of recall information with nothing substantive on the crib recall.

Stork Craft defended its manufacturing, saying its cribs have met or exceeded all Canadian and US standards and issued the following statement:
“In the majority of incidents, the cribs were being used with broken parts, parts with pieces missing, parts that were damaged or with modified or homemade parts…In some incidents, the crib was in a state of significant disrepair. In other cases, the consumer had installed the drop-side rail upside down — contrary to the instructions that are glued to the mattress base of each crib. This causes extraordinary stress on the plastic parts that could result in breakage.”

The company is offering replacement kits and brackets for crib that includes assembly instructions accompanied with a YouTube video.

This is not Stork Craft’s first safety and product recall so it surprises me that the company did a poor job handling the latest issue this week. The company made several PR blunders. Continue reading

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Filed under Issues & Crisis Management, PR - What Not To Do!

How to protect your company’s reputation online

The days when news was disseminated by only newspapers, radio and television is a distant memory. Today the Internet is king for disseminating information at lightning speed — negative or incorrect comments posted on the Internet by critics can spread quickly and damage your company’s reputation if left uncorrected or un-refuted.

The reality today is that content can be generated by your next door neighbor and stay archived online for years! That’s why it’s important to monitor, negate and neutralize damaging online comments or harmful stories before they cause a PR crisis.

reputationAbout 10 – 15 years ago, when we were dealing primarily with traditional media our ability to monitor and respond to the news was relatively straightforward. We had time, however limited, to organize our facts, develop a response, a course of action, then get the word out. But that situation has changed dramatically.

The proliferation of social media has changed the paradigm. With the popularity of blogs and social networking sites, both good and bad news, correct and incorrect information spreads like wildfire. Under the right circumstances, a miniscule blog can pump out information with the strength, reach and impact of major daily newspaper.

Some crisis communication experts say that the new acceptable level for a first public response to a crisis is 15 minutes. I think one to two hours is more realistic…but the sooner a company responds, the better. Continue reading

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Filed under Digital PR, Issues & Crisis Management, Social Media

Rogue Domino’s employee posts YouTube video, creating a corporate nightmare

Two Domino’s Pizza employees in North Carolina posted a video on YouTube showing one of them preparing a sandwich order for a customer. The video shows one employee putting cheese in his nostril and waving meat under his backside before putting the ingredients on the sandwiches. Numerous major news and social media outlets around the world have covered the incident, including the New York Times and USA Today.

262953-resDomino’s knew about the video for nearly 48-hours before it responded with a proactive campaign that included a video message from the president, a Customer Care website page, public updates, and a Twitter1 account.

This was undoubtedly a difficult situation for Domino’s – a company cannot respond to every hoax (apparently the sandwich was never delivered to the customer). Sometimes over-reacting unnecessarily fans the flames. Executive management gambled that this incident would be contained in local media and likely monitored the situation to see if it would balloon. The “wait-and-see” mode can be okay if you have a rapid response plan ready to implement….it is a calculated risk.

I wasn’t behind-the-scenes so don’t want to judge harshly — the view is always great from the stands — but I wonder why small immediate steps were not taken to mitigate the situation before it escalated. Tools such as TweetScan alert you to “smoldering” issues before they become full-blown crises. Continue reading

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Filed under Digital PR, Issues & Crisis Management, PR Planning & Strategy, Social Media