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Using PR to Protect Brands: Crisis Communications Vets Share ... Using PR to Protect Brands: Crisis Communications Vets Share ... Document Transcript

  • presents Using PR to Protect Brands: Crisis Communications Vets Share Proven Regimens for Defending Brands Online and Off Wednesday, November 14, 2007 1:00PM EST/12:00PM CST/11:00AM MST/10:00AM PST • Andrea Rader, Director, Corporate Communications, US Airways Featuring • Mary Beth Halprin, Senior Manager, Corporation Communications, • Albert J. Tortorella, Director, Crisis Management, Chrysler • Michael Fineman, President, Creative Director, Fineman PR Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide 2007 Infocom Group
  • Welcome to PR University’s audio conference “Using PR to Protect Brands: Crisis Communications Vets Share Proven Regimens for Defending Brands Online and Off” Thank you for participating in “Using PR to Protect • Speaker bios and verified contact information Brands: Crisis Communications Vets Share Proven • Value-added articles on today’s topics from the Regimens for Defending Brands Online and Off.” archives of Bulldog Reporter This conference manual contains important information to help ensure that you receive How to Submit Questions to the Panel maximum value from today’s PR University You have two options for submitting questions to training session. today’s panel: 1. At any time before or during the conference, Conference Details and you can send a question by email to Dial-in Information Please put some or Date and Time: all of your question in the Subject Line of your email. Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2. During the last portion of the conference, we 1:00pm EST, 12:00pm CST, 11:00am MST, and will open the lines for a live Q&A session. When 10:00am PST you hear your company name called by the The conference will last 90 minutes. moderator, your line will be made “live” and you’ll be able to interact with the panel. If you’ve muted Dial-in Information your line during the call, be sure to UNMUTE your Call 866-802-7443, 5 -10 minutes prior to phone so you can ask your question. conference start time. Your Moderator You will be greeted by an Operator who will confirm your registration and enter you into the Brian Pittman is director of content for Bulldog call. Reporter’s PR University and the weekly email newsletter Journalists Speak Out. Previously, You will hear music on hold until the conference Brian served as editorial director at Infocom is started, or be connected directly to the Group, where he edited, reported for and conference if it has already begun. launched titles such as Media Relations Insider, During the conference, you will be in listen-only PR Agency Insider, Ad Agency Insider and mode, until such time as you are enabled to ask Managing Partner. Prior to that, he served as questions. The conference operator will provide Editor of Utah Business magazine, among other directions for asking live questions during the titles. He is a seasoned reporter with extensive call. experience interviewing such personalities as Steve Forbes, Bob Edwards and Margaret About Your Conference Manual Thatcher. To help you make full use of this PR University Brian’s contact information: audio conference, we have prepared a customized (805) 984-2977 conference manual containing: • An Audio Conference Worksheet with written information about the topic and ample room for you to take notes and create your own customized take-away materials ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 1
  • Audio Conference Worksheet Andrea Rader, Director, Corporate Communications, US Airways US Airways 111 W. Rio Salado Parkway Tempe, AZ 85281 (480) 693-5729 Andrea Rader joined US Airways as director, corporate communications, in April 2006, overseeing the airline’s media relations, internal communications and emergency communications. Andrea joined US Airways from Wal-Mart where she worked in executive communications as a speechwriter at the retailer’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Prior to her position at Wal-Mart, Andrea spent 14 years (1990-2004) at American Airlines in Fort Worth, Texas. She also worked as a reporter/editor with the Associated Press for 11 years in the Columbus, Ohio, Washington DC and Dallas bureaus. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ continued on next page ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 2
  • Audio Conference Worksheet continued Mary Beth Halprin, Senior Manager, Corporation Communications, Chrysler Chrysler 1000 Chrysler Drive 485-06-55 Auburn Hills, MI 48326 (248) 512-2658 (248) 512-1756 fax Mary Beth Halprin is the senior manager of corporation communications at Chrysler. During her time at Chrysler, she has been involved with a number of high-profile media issues, including September 11’s impact on the auto industry and a number of manufacturing related crises, among others. Currently, she oversees communications for Chrysler’s recovery and transformation plan, and aspects of the organization’s information technology. Previously, Mary Beth worked at Chrysler overseeing manufacturing and labor, procurement and supply, financial, M&A communications and broadcast communications. Additionally, she acted as Chrysler’s corporate communications spokesperson in Europe. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ continued on next page ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 3
  • Audio Conference Worksheet continued Albert J. Tortorella, Director, Crisis Management, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide 9100 Wilshire Blvd. 6th floor West Tower Beverly Hills, California 90212 (310) 248-6136 Albert Tortorella is director of crisis management at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He brings more than 25 years of corporate and crisis management experience to the company. Since representing Tylenol during its national recall in 1982, as a result of consumer deaths from product tampering, he has developed an international reputation as an expert on crisis management and media, advising some of the world’s largest companies in dealing with sensitive public issues. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ continued on next page ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 4
  • Audio Conference Worksheet continued Michael Fineman, President, Creative Director, Fineman PR Fineman PR 330 Townsend St., Ste. 119 San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 392-1000, ext. 21 (415) 392-1099, fax Michael Fineman directs Fineman PR in creating and implementing award-winning programs that have consistently met and surpassed client objectives. He is nationally recognized for brand building, creative and strategic counsel and programs, and crisis management success. Michael started his agency 13 years ago, initially serving professional service organizations, technology, real estate and other b-to-b accounts. Michael’s crisis management experience for Pacifica Foundation/KPFA, Odwalla and general contractors and construction equipment manufacturers has been honored with national awards. Michael coined the term “Brand PR” in 1995 to help marketers, brand managers, entrepreneurs and other high level executives understand how effective public relations can build brand equity. Michael produces the Annual PR Blunders List, which is published in newspapers nationwide to help the business community understand the concept of good vs. bad public relations. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ continued on next page ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 5
  • Audio Conference Worksheet continued 1. Common Scenarios: Types of Crises Facing Clients and Companies ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Preemptive Planning: How to Orchestrate Vulnerability Assessments & Crisis Audits ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Essential Components of Effective Crisis Communications Plans ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Checklist: What to Do in the First 48 Hours of Any Crisis ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 6
  • Audio Conference Worksheet continued 5. New Media, New Challenges: Coping with Crises in a Web 2.0 World ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 6. Best and Worst Practices: Lessons and Recent Case Studies ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ 7. Action Items & Additional Resources ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 7
  • Bonus: Practical Reports from the Archives of Bulldog Reporter Steady as She Goes: JetBlue's and excellent SWAT team assistance, we will lose the news cycle, rendering us unable to assist our company. Dervin Climbs from Crisis Mode to We also benefited from an extremely strong Share Hard-Won Advice company discipline to send all media calls to us for Brian Pittman’s spotlight: Jenny Dervin, Director of centralized messaging. We have 50 cities, and I think Corporate Communications, JetBlue Airways it's fair to say that every city had a news crew show up How would you react to a company-wide meltdown? at the ticket counter over the course of this event. Would you keep your cool? Would you or your crisis Every single city held true to our request to not plan (yes, that dusty tome at the bottom of your filing comment on camera or for the record. They were cabinet) hold up under fire? asked to kindly refer media to us, and to provide, not for attribution, the information they had available. You're not alone if these thoughts keep you awake at They also informed media that while they had some night. We all wonder how we'd perform under such information, they did not have the very latest, and that pressure. Most of us, thankfully, never find out. CorpComm would be their best source. Yet Jenny Dervin is not one of the untested. Not I am uncomfortable "grading" our effectiveness. anymore. Neither is her team. As director of corporate That's really up to the media we served. I can tell you communications for JetBlue Airways, she helped lead that for the first time ever in my career, and in the her staff through what some in PR are already calling a lifetime of PR people that I know and respect, media case-book study in crisis response when the airline questions today almost exclusively centered around a experienced unprecedented flight delays brought on by theme never heard before: When are you guys going to extreme weather the week before last—delays that saw shut up? I took great delight in asking our reporters to customers grounded onboard for hours, and which please note date, time and place in their diaries—the culminated in what the company dubbed the "worst media were asking US to STOP communicating! You operational week in JetBlue's seven year history," can take what you will from that data point, but I will punctuated by a last-minute delisting from give you another: Over the course of the last week, BusinessWeek's ranking of top 25 customer service nearly every reporter we spoke with ended the call with firms. a sincere "Thank you for being so up-front with "We are on fire over here—every email and call gets information. You answered every question straight- immediate attention," Dervin related in an email forward." Whoa. exchange with Bulldog Reporter as operations began to So I'll leave it up to our reporters to grade our stabilize and JetBlue released its customer "Bill of performance, but from a personal perspective, I am Rights." "We have to buy a case of eye drops for the humbled and honored to work with the people I do. team! We're doing well—we are now hopefully re- Our CorpComm team is extremely small for a entering normal mode," she wrote. company our size. We do not have an agency-of-record, Here she revisits the pivotal moments of a week and we have no intention of hiring an agency. It's not she'd likely rather forget, discusses the importance of about cost control it's about our company's leadership. having a corporate crisis communications plan in You don't need a third party telling you what you place—and offers detailed, hard-won advice for should do when your leadership is incredibly aligned, stepping up and delivering when it counts most: and when you can trust their instinct as much as you trust your own. We met our own high expectations, and How do you think JetBlue and your team responded frankly, we did more individually and collectively than overall; what grade would you give yourselves? we ever thought was possible. I think the motivation I think we held true to our mission as new-age PR was our love of the company. I know it sounds people, and that is, to answer every inquiry, whether it schmaltzy and fake—but it's true. We love each other came through the hotline or email, immediately. We and we were willing to follow our leader Todd Burke to live in a Web 2.0 world, with deadlines every five hell and back. minutes. If we aren't staffed with capable professionals ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 8
  • What might you do better or differently in the early on not to prioritize inbound media calls. In order future? to handle the volume, we "recruited" (aka, "stole") We have been reviewing customer response in crewmembers from Marketing and other departments blogs, online media comment boards and responses to to help us in the media room. Our media room is our direct email campaign, as well as unsolicited adjacent to our Emergency Command Center, where advice from several PR agencies that felt the need to Todd Burke was stationed during the day, and I smack us when we were down, and as much as it hurt handled the overnight shift. Our managers, Bryan to read some of this input, we learned a few things. Baldwin and Alison Eshelman, were responsible for If there is a next time, we will activate our web to finding capable people, briefing them, and directing emergency/crisis mode, clearing the home page and media calls appropriately. We had morning briefing providing more information up front. We used a web sheets for the team, and we used the white boards in application that makes customers click to a page for the media room to keep a running tally of information information. We normally use this application for reporters were constantly asking for—things like, "How garden-variety weather advisories, and in retrospect, we many flights have you cancelled today?" and "What should have kicked into full emergency mode Friday does the operation look like tomorrow?" night, when the operation simply fell apart. For reporters with whom we have established Other than that, I really can't point to anything that relationships, we reached out several times to see if didn't perform exactly to our crisis plan specifications. there was anything they needed from the company. A We had a full staff answering media inbound calls; we result of this was the coverage in The New York Times, stole people from Marketing and other departments to which scored several exclusives based on their ability to help us answer inbound calls; we had our leader Todd get customer stories other outlets did not get. We run our CEO's media schedule; and we had our honored the integrity they exhibited in handling these internal comms manager ensure that the company was sensitive stories, including a report of a near-riot at JFK kept informed from a single source (our intranet and on Friday night, by making our CEO available to them via email). We experienced brand new wrinkles, such early and often. Our openness was rewarded with fair as media camped outside our terminal at JFK for days and balanced reporting. on end, and we dealt with those contingencies We also created a proactive media list for our cities perfectly, in my opinion. affected by the suspension of service over the weekend. The news media may not agree.We denied access to We blanketed those 11 markets with at least two our "house" at JFK for two-and-a-half days while we outreach communications to advise what was handled thousands of customers and more than 2,500 happening, and the resources available to them should misplaced bags.They were not happy about that, but they have any questions. we opened the terminal up again for live remotes and We also issued several press releases that other B-roll filming as quickly as possible, when we could companies would probably blanch at issuing, but we confidently ensure that the news crews wouldn't needed our local media to help us get the word out to interfere with the airport operation and flow of our customers than operational disruption continued, customers.We instituted a brand new policy of pre- and the policies in place to compensate them for the approving news crews to film inside the house with a disruption. Our call center was overwhelmed with password that we shared with our security inbound calls, while also attempting to call customers, crewmembers.(Security was also authorized to approve so the more our customers knew before they called or decline news crews who did not have the password, really helped the call volume. based on their hard-earned experience over the prior days on who would abide by the rules and who Whose idea was the "Bill of Rights"? What was the wouldn't.)We have reports of news crews and reporters thinking behind that? who did not have the password, and our security The "Bill of Rights" was entirely and exclusively our crewmembers kindly escorted them off property Founder and CEO's idea. David Neeleman worked because they were disturbing our customers and tirelessly the first three days of the event in our System interfering with the operation. Operations center, gaining expertise in the areas where the company failed its customers and crewmembers. How did you prioritize media calls—how would you On Sunday night, he called a meeting of the entire describe the resulting coverage? leadership team to advise them we would issue a This event was of such proportion that we decided "Customer Bill of Rights" that had real penalties for the ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 9
  • company, and real compensation for inconvenienced was not recovering, we consulted again with leadership customers, should a self-inflicted disruption of this kind to expand the rebooking window to May 22. The ever happen again. He also directed the officers to history of the company's decisions is detailed on our immediately correct five key areas that he found to be press release site here, so I won't go into tedious detail. lacking, in order to ensure that even if we faced a At every step of the way, CorpComm was alongside blizzard the next day, we would be better prepared to leadership, taking direction from our leaders and serve our customers. inputting our advice as needed on both the internal and external communications strategy. Our VP, Todd How'd your CEO do? What made him particularly Burke, recommended a pro-active media strategy to our suited for dealing with this crisis? CEO, and David Neeleman made the television and Wow ... I want to say that I'm speechless when it print rounds on Friday, when we thought we would be comes to David Neeleman, but words do NOT fail me. ahead of the event. Being out in front of cameras and David was tireless in examining the operation, directly reporters was the right decision, and we unfortunately from the nerve center of the airline, for the first three had to repeat and expand the strategy on Tuesday of days of the event. We also activated him for media on this week, when we were assured that we would be Friday morning, before the real meltdown happened at back at 100% operations, and that most of the JFK Friday night. Starting Saturday, he began assigning mishandled baggage would be processed within 24 teams to specific areas of need, including contacting hours. flight crews (pilots and flight attendants) to build a database of those available for reassignment. On We activated our media room Friday night/Saturday Sunday, he directed his leadership team on specific morning. I know I was on an operations and leadership actions needing attention and action immediately, and conference call at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, and by told us he was going to announce a "Bill of Rights" on 8:00 a.m., our entire team was in place and fielding Tuesday, so we better get it done, with real penalties to inbound calls. JetBlue and real and meaningful compensation for our We are fortunate that our leadership trusts us customers. immensely, and our advise is heard and incorporated As our leadership team worked the assignments on into the overall response plan. Monday, we video-taped a message from David to our crewmembers, which aired on our intranet. We also Would you say JetBlue's PR team enjoys a "seat at videotaped a customer message introducing key the table"? If so, what's your advice to others for provisions of the "Bill of Rights." The internal message getting there, as well? was published immediately, and our customer video We absolutely have a seat at the table. We consulted was posted on and YouTube that evening, our CEO on the proactive media strategies for both once we had the near-final document. Friday morning and Tuesday (full day), and our CEO approved all of our ideas. I believe he set a record for When was the PR team first approached for counsel most interviews in a single day on Tuesday. (Live on this crisis? appearances on the "Today Show," "CNN American This was a slow-burn crisis. We were well aware of a Morning," "FOX and Friends," CNBC; and taped weather system approaching New York and the interviews with network ABC, NBC, NY1 and local Northeast. We published a press release Wednesday, CBS. He also appeared on "The Late Show with David February 14, announcing a waiver policy for anyone Letterman" that evening.) Is that a record? I would booked to travel to or via the Northeast that day. When really like to know! we learned of the exceedingly long ground delays nine So how do you get a seat at the table? Three pieces of our flights experienced, we consulted with of advice: First: Pick the right company to work for. leadership and published a corporate statement Service industry companies should have a high acknowledging and apologizing for the seven-plus expectation of their CorpComm teams—so that's a hours some of our customers experienced trapped on a good place to start. Second: You better be good at what plane. you do OUTSIDE of a crisis. Build strong relationships On February 15, we consulted with leadership on a with your internal clients, and prove you speak their new rebooking policy. We issued two releases that day; language and can get their message out. Third: Plan the first release expanded the rebooking window to the work and work the plan. Game theory the worst March 20. When CorpComm saw that the operation that can happen to your company's reputation, and ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 10
  • practice your response. Talk with your leaders about it, After all that, what do you love about the practice of and get a gut feeling on how they would likely respond. PR? Would they want to run and hide? Convince them I love that PR makes a difference. Actually, I prefer otherwise BEFORE the crisis hits. saying "CorpComm" or Corporate Communications because PR is exclusive to the external audience. What were the worst parts of the week—and the CorpComm is responsible for internal as well as best parts, if there were any? external audiences. Ahhhhhh … I love that CorpComm is all about crafting the story. The worst part of the week was Saturday, when it We advise our clients what story we want to tell. If they looked hopeless that we would recover the operation, agree, they make real policy decisions to support our and that the meltdown the night before might damage goal, often inspired by our proposed storyline to think our reputation forever. We had scheduled a ~75% of creative alternatives or to minimize potential operation for Friday, and it completely fell apart. We downsides that we have identified. When we have to should have been able to run the operation. We were report the facts, we do so without spin or not immune to the frustration and downright anger our embellishment. We are an example of integrity to our crewmembers and customers felt that day, but we peers. huddled and told each other, "We have a job to do. Let's get it done." Because we did not have data to What crisis tips and lessons are you now able to show that we had control of the situation, we were share with other PR people? open and honest with media, telling them exactly what On the serious side: Have a CorpComm leadership we knew, when we knew it. We also communicated structure that is in tune with each other on a deep and our company's recovery plan, which included the personal level. The last thing you want is to second- drastic and unprecedented action of completely guess your decisions if you think the boss won't agree. suspending service to 11 cities in order to help reset the You can get there by hosting table-top exercises, operation. gaming various worst-case scenarios. If you don't have a The best part of the week ... That's a little harder to good vibe with your leadership, you better work for a pinpoint. We all experienced moments of pure love for tyrant micro-manager so you won't get a chance to each other, just for the simple fact that in a moment of make a mistake. And who wants that? true crisis, everyone was eager to get into the deepest Ask for more than you think people can give. When darkest corner and work their way out. I absolutely you have a great team around you, everyone wants to hated calling our manager Alison back from Vermont pull more than their weight in order to alleviate the in order to staff the media room. Even though she work load on their colleagues. Encourage people to drove 4.5 hours to Vermont early Friday evening, and take care of themselves, but don't "send" anyone home. drove back overnight, she was there Saturday, tired and (True pros will go home when they need to, and they'll without a proper briefing, fielding media calls. Bryan make sure the work is covered.) Not being part of the worked around the clock, and made sure the media experience that you can all share later as a bonding coming to our headquarters was cared for and placed moment is a HUGE mistake. When you're in crisis in five different offices so our CEO could move mode, the world stops. Alison said it best: "I was at seamlessly from interview to interview. Sebastian is our dinner last night, and I looked around at the people in only intranet manager—he had absolutely no back up. the restaurant, and I thought, 'What world do they live He was awake for five days straight, making sure our in?' I had nothing in common with anyone there— crewmembers had the right information at the right they all got up and went to work today like it was a time. Morgan, our video services producer, recorded normal day." and turned the video messages from David in record True professionals will tap into resources they didn't time. It's a miracle his equipment didn't burn out from know they had in order to be part of something bigger the speed production. Todd kept us all together and than themselves. The gratification of knowing you made sure we didn't burn out while he developed the made a real difference is worth more than money or overall strategy and executed huge portions of it kudos. himself. The funny thing is that no one wanted to leave—it was almost like we felt guilty for needing Be kind to each other. The adrenaline will have to sleep or a shower. leave your body at some point. You are the traffic cop of all information, overwhelming at times, and the ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 11
  • entire company is relying on your team to manage the brands and personalities in the pharmaceuticals, reputation and re-build trust in your product. This is petrochemical and entertainment sectors. your moment to shine, and you inevitably do. But the "This is important because you now have everybody crash comes, and it is hard. How does that old song go? upholding the 'instant recall.' But it's unrealistic "You always hurt the ones you love." Let the blow-ups because companies would constantly be in recall mode and meltdowns happen, and never mention it to the if they were to follow that line of thinking," explains person again unless they bring it up. Reward the team Dezenhall, whose recently released Damage Control: with meaningful things—make sure senior leadership Why Everything You Know about Crisis Management is knows what they're doing without bragging or Wrong advances similar claims and more. martyrdom. No one likes a martyr. The old PR saying applies: No heroes, no martyrs. "Another reason this is a bad model is nobody was blaming Johnson & Johnson for poisoning people," On the not-so-serious but still kinda-serious side: Dezenhall continues. "Everyone understood there was Have a toothbrush and deodorant at the office. a madman on the loose and the company was a victim. ALWAYS. (Febreeze helps, too.) You get a little stinky It's easier to get out of a crisis in such 'sniper crises.' working around the clock for five days, and you don't Far more common are 'character crises,' where the want to be distracted thinking that your colleagues are company is the villain. Those are harder to manage." offended by your odor. And it feels good to have clean teeth. In addition: "There was also a very easy action you could take if you didn't want to die during the Tylenol Walk away. Take 15 minutes if that's all you get. scare. You threw out your Tylenol. But imagine telling There's no such thing as, "I can't take a 15 minute a woman with breast implants to take them out," break right now," unless you've just taken one. If that's Dezenhall posits. "Imagine telling someone who the case, and you need more time, you better take it so bought a $40,000 SUV to take it back. Ridiculous. You you can be effective later. Again—don't be a hero. can't. So the Tylenol case was a relative storm of very Know your limits and stick to them. easy actions and scenarios that shouldn't be held up for Finally, keep a sense of humor. I include in this today's practitioners," he reiterates. "It's not the model category the life skill of knowing that the crisis is not we should be following—just as Calamine lotion isn't happening TO YOU, but you are the solution. the antidote to diabetes. It's the wrong set of 'solutions' for managing the types of crises most of us face." This article appeared in Read on for more of Dezenhall's controversial take Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. on this sacred cow of crisis communications, his For more information go to assessment of JetBlue's recent crisis response—and his sometimes surprising "new rules" of practicing PR in an increasingly adversarial age: Damage Control: Author Dezenhall How did the Tylenol case come to be so iconic if it's Challenges Tylenol Cyanide Scare such a bad model? The reason it became known for being so brilliantly Response, Conventional PR Wisdom managed is that a PR firm that didn't handle it wrote a Brian Pittman’s spotlight: Eric Dezenhall, CEO, case study declaring it to be brilliant. They rewrote the Dezenhall Resources facts and went around on road shows for years The old rules of crisis management don't cut it proselytizing the case. anymore, believes D.C.-based communications exec Basically, it came down to some very clever PR and author Eric Dezenhall. What's more: This is 25th people rewriting how it went down, positioning it as anniversary of the Tylenol cyanide scare, which their own work—and then using it as a rainmaking Dezenhall says should not be upheld as a model of tool. From there, lots of PR people preached this case crisis management. "The myth is they immediately for new business development purposes. Business recalled the product, but it actually took eight days. school professors also love this case study and the Retailers began pulling it first," says Dezenhall, who "theories" behind it because it's so neat and tidy. But began his career in the White House Office of the truth is crises are typically far messier. Traditional Communications during the Reagan presidency and crisis communications is rarely up to the task. has since managed "monster controversies" for top ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 12
  • What's "wrong" with crisis communications as we or "promotional" sphere are disasters at mitigating know it? crisis. Conventional crisis communications is about issuing Another tip that comes out of this is to be aware of apologies, staying on message and getting out there your own hard wiring. If you abhor confrontation, quickly. That's insufficient. It should be more about don't volunteer for crisis work. Admit that you should recognizing that modern crises aren't always organic be on the marketing side—and work hard to find the and simple. Instead, they're agenda-driven conflicts right partners to sit with you at the table when crisis catalyzed by motivated adversaries. The best way to strikes. answer the question, then, is to say that modern crises aren't communications problems. They're conflicts. Who are those right people—who should be in the Conventional PR is anchored in the belief that the war room? public want to be educated, as if the public is waiting Let's start with who shouldn't be there. Mid-level to hear more about what an industrial polluter has to people with no decision-making power—get them out say. But the truth is the public isn't listening. The of the room. Others include: technical people with no Edward Bernays school of PR assumes that the public capacity to summarize complicated things for public is a blank state to be manipulated. But my experience consumption, and note-takers or people who feel is they're not even listening. The public doesn't yearn compelled to send detailed emails on laptops about the to be educated by multinationals. So my perspective is proceedings. When there's someone in the room taking that true crisis communications now is more guerrilla detailed notes, I get up. I've had too many situations warfare than conventional warfare. where I've later seen my memos in the newspaper. You never know the loyalties of the people in the room. You claim in your book that PR isn't the best discipline to combat crisis—why? Could you explain that statement—why do you say The answer is it's not in the DNA of most PR that? people to do what's necessary to manage a crisis. PR A corporation under siege is no longer a company. people by nature tend to be positive people who are It's a collection of individuals looking for self very uncomfortable with the existence of conflict. They preservation, so you never know who will send that want it all to be OK. The problem with that is email to The Wall Street Journal. everything won't be OK when you're dealing with So back to the question: Who absolutely must be in conflicts. What you have to look at in any crisis is not the room? only what the problem is, but also what the DNA is of The top lawyer, the top business manager or your the people at table. CEO, a crisis counselor and an expert on whatever the Corporate PR people are used to communicating technical issue or question is that's under positive information. They're not used to sparring with consideration. That's it. And yes, you need a PR person people who want to hurt them. Their job is about in the room—but it has to be someone who is adept at building and maintaining "relations." That makes sense dealing with bad news. If that's not you, find that when the focus is on news releases, speeches and the person and get him or her in there. usual corporate communications mission. In that sphere, their DNA is correct. But not when you're What are some of your "new rules" of crisis dealing with crisis management, where you're facing management? hostile parties. Political-oriented PR people are less For starters, don't always apologize. Bill Clinton and limited that way. Martha Stewart survived scandals by avoiding apologies. Also: Seek recovery, not popularity. O.J. How does that critique of the typical PR mindset Simpson is reviled by much of the public, but he translate to advice for readers? succeeded at avoiding jail. Another one is to fight back For starters, corporations and their PR assertively instead of making nice. For example, representatives should be better at attracting people to Microsoft's vigorous fight during its anti-trust battle had the table who have been through litigation. Bring on much more impact on saving its reputation than Gates' people who know what it's like to have protesters out attempt to appear more likable by wearing sweaters. there. Hire PR team members who have dealt with Don't try to spin a public that doesn't want to be savage litigation and blanket negative media coverage. spun. For example, BP's feel-good advertising didn't Realize that PR people who come from the marketing win over the public following 2005-6 allegations of ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 13
  • leaks and commodity trading fraud. And don't confuse consumers control. crises with conflicts, nuisances or marketplace assaults. HP made the mistake of inflating its 2006 boardroom What did you think of JetBlue's apology—did it give leak nuisance into a crisis. consumers that control? I thought it was great. I thought it was more than How do you think JetBlue responded to its recent just the typical PR apology. It actually came equipped crisis? with penitence and action. The great mistake of crisis I think they did fine. When the story broke, an management is the belief that the apology is the interviewer for a TV news program asked me why answer. I savage that in the book. The apology must JetBlue was in such a mess. I said one reason was come with an offering or a threat. JetBlue came with they—and the rest of the media—were asking guests the offering of its "Passenger Bill of Rights" and actions every hour on the hour why the company was in that included refunds. That's why it works. But the trouble. My argument was the media was in effect problem with most PR messaging is that it isn't creating the crisis, as far as the response to it goes. supported with behaviors driving the company. It's just Related to that was the incorrect assumption by the that—messaging. part of the interviewer that the media would have What other crises have you been watching—what covered JetBlue's response had it been handled lessons spring from them? correctly. That was a wrong assumption because then The biggest is the Department of Justice scandal. there would be no story. The old mother goose notion Here's why: When a crisis begins, there's always a that if you do the right thing and apologize is total BS tremendous pressure to respond quickly. PR 101 insists these days, because the media and online sites like that you get out there fast. The problem with this is some blogs are active investors in perpetuating the that you often don't know squat right away. But if you crisis. They only gain if they keep the crisis afloat. say that, it looks like stonewalling to the media. They need it to fill the news hole, get more viewers and, ultimately, be more profitable. So, Gonzales got out there and pretended like he knew. He probably didn't lie willfully, but he came out That aside, I gave JetBlue very high marks. Modern half-cocked and looked like he lied. Now he's in the crisis management is personality driven, not "plan" or impossible situation of convincing people that he strategy driven. So having their CEO out there in an didn't lie. You never get that moral equity back. It's far evangelical way was fantastic. People want to see the better to piss people off for a few days while you get person, not the plan. That's what we respond to, and it your act together than it is to attempt to feed the news worked for them. hole and speak quickly. Another example is the pet The belief in the "plan" really is the ultimate PR food story. They don't know what caused the problem, avoidance strategy. Obsessing about what the crisis plan but the media's still clamoring for an answer no matter should be is the best way to sound like you're doing what. something when you're really just avoiding the issue at hands. Honestly, it takes a second to determine How have the blogosphere and new media changed strategy. What you need is the vehicle for the nature of crisis? communicating that plan—and today, it really comes The blogosphere is an active investor in a target's down to people standing in front of the problem like destruction. It is a beast that demands and feeds on their CEO did. negative information. It actively resists any vindicating When I talk to a client under siege, I first ask who information about a target of attack. Why? It's human the lead is. If they say they need to flesh out the nature. We all like to be the ones to traffic in dirt. We strategy first, that's when we push back from the table. want to be the first ones forwarding the email of Britney with her shaved head because it gives us power What did JetBlue do wrong? over the target. I think it was the original sin. Crisis management all People want control. Obama is popular right now in comes down to control. When you have people stuck part because we are responsible for making him a god. on the runway for 11 hours, you have committed an Once he gets too big and forgets the little people, we unforgivable sin. Those people had no control over will tear him town. Martha got so big that her base their lives. Better to cancel flights and piss people off ceased to be able to relate to her as "one of us who than to leave them in a coffin for 11 hours. When all is made good." Then she got more coverage than ever said and done, crisis management is about giving when she went to prison. You couldn't turn around ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 14
  • without seeing another Martha headline. for those three characters in its crisis stories. Knowing Also, blogs want to break things first. It's their way to this will give you a framework within which to work. get their name out and tear down their enemies What is the number one crisis tip you learned during without research or barriers. Years ago, if I wanted to your tenure at the White House? place a bad story, I would have to convince an The most important factor in who survives a crisis is investigative reporter. He'd resist due to journalistic the fundamental likeability of the target. People liked standards. He'd have to spend weeks, if not months, on Reagan. They let him slide on a lot of things. I was a the research. But online, someone can plant a rumor 22 year old kid. I wasn't a power player, but I do recall that you're being investigated by the Department of that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mike Deaver Justice, for example. The rumor will spread, without would rarely let Reagan talk to hostile audiences with any research. To top it off, newspapers will contribute the belief he would win them over. Instead, he was just to the rumor by reporting that "there are rumblings put in situations where he was strong and audiences online that X person is being investigated by the liked him. Department of Justice." So the tip is this: Nothing is to be gained by trying What is the best way to defuse an online situation to convince people who hate you to like you. Preach to like that? the choir instead. I think it can sometimes happen only through legal action directed at the perpetrator, and by drawing This article appeared in attention in the broader media to the fact that someone Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. is using this technique online. Knowing that they're For more information go to being watched can have a chilling effect on hostile actors—and that includes blogs. The mistake many PR people make is thinking that if they refute the claims and talk about good things, it will outweigh the Unprecedented Crisis Response: PR negative. My perspective is that doesn't work. You have Opens Microsoft's Doors to Thwart to instead put the bulls-eye back on the attacker. the Zotob Virus Crisis and Restore Do you believe the media is always looking for a Customer Confidence "villain" and a "hero" in a crisis? Every crisis has three Vs: the victim, the villain and By Frank Zeccola the vindicator. The public only understands narratives, There are thousands of computer worms and viruses not crises. We want to know who to like, who to believe in existence throughout the world at any particular and who to hate. That's how the media tells its stories moment in time. If your computer has ever been related to crises. infected, you know the amount of frustration and stress a virus can cause—especially if it happens at work. So how do you make yourself the vindicator and not Strange message boxes appear on your screen. the villain? Programs and files disappear. Friends and colleagues A crisis is resolved when you muddy the rigid roles receive emails from you that you did not send. of these three types of characters or when you reverse the roles. For example, Wendy's was the villain initially Crisis strikes Microsoft: The Zotob virus causes an during the chili crisis. The victims were the public and 'Internet meltdown.' the woman who "found" the finger. The crisis was These are just some of the symptoms of popular resolved when the narrative was switched and Wendy's computer viruses. On August 9, 2005, a worm called became the victim and the woman became the villain. Zotob was released, and it began attacking computers Candidly, it rarely switches that quickly. So the goal running on old versions of Microsoft's operating of PR person is to enact that switch. In the case of system, such as Windows 2000. Since more than 95 Wendy's, it took at investigation to expose there was a percent of the world's computers run on Microsoft real villain in this other than the one initially believed Windows, countless people were hit—including entire to be the villain. So as a PR person, ask yourself if it's businesses, offices on Capitol Hill and, worst of all, possible to alter the villain. If so, will that take newsrooms like CNN, ABC and The New York Times. investigative, law enforcement or even legal elements? Symptoms of the Zotob worm include the repeated Also, be aware of this model—that the media is looking shutdown and rebooting of a computer. You can ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 15
  • imagine CNN's Wolf Blitzer standing over his Naturally, some of the Microsoft security team computer in bewilderment as it unexpectedly shuts members were nervous about letting reporters into the down and turns back on again. Situation Room, as there were obvious risks to this The Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) strategy. First was the certain distraction that would be quickly identified the virus as a low-level threat. After caused by camera and reporting crews shuffling around all, most businesses had updated their networks and the Situation Room as security members worked to not been affected. Those that were affected were help customers and destroy the virus. receiving guidance from the MSRC. But worse, what if news reporters uncovered But because such high-profile newsrooms were hit, something more startling than Zotob itself? What if a the situation quickly escalated into a media frenzy. Microsoft employee, in a fit of stress and frustration, Blitzer himself called it 'a major computer worm said something on camera that might damage the affecting computer users around the world.' Other company's reputation further? What if news crews national outlets reported an 'Internet meltdown.' Aaron cobbled together an unflattering report from images Brown declared Zotob the 'computer Ebola.' and statements taken entirely out of context? Microsoft had a crisis on its hands. 'Customers were Waggener Edstrom weighed these risks and decided misled to believe that Zotob's threat was far greater that the best course of action was to negotiate a live than the reality,' says Kjersti Gunderson, senior interview that would allow Microsoft to tell its story account executive for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, free from editorializing. This would limit the potential the agency partnering with Microsoft during the crisis. for producers to manipulate footage into a portrayal of 'The situation was unique because while the scope of a sensationalized 'worldwide crisis.' With a live impact was limited, the worm impacted high-profile interview, Microsoft could shoot straight and relay the media targets that weren't using updated Microsoft facts. software—which would have protected them from the And so, just two hours after Wolf Blitzer's initial worm.' report, CNN's Paula Zahn conducted a live interview Every crisis is serious, but when the media is part of with Microsoft spokesperson Debby Fry Wilson the crisis story, the situation is particularly delicate. 'It outside of a Microsoft building. Wilson responded to required swift and decisive action in order to Zahn's emotional 'gotcha' questions with advice and communicate the reality of the situation and quickly guidance for customers in simple, factual language. provide guidance for customers,' Gunderson says. The results: The Zotob crisis is downgraded to low impact—and trust in Microsoft is restored. The strategic response: Let the media inside At 8 p.m., just two hours after the Paula Zahn Microsoft's Situation Room to film live coverage of interview, CNN anchor Aaron Brown retracted his Microsoft's security response in action. earlier 'computer Ebola' comment and said that Zotob Luckily, Waggener Edstrom and Microsoft's security was more like a flu outbreak. Then, that evening and team had already performed drills anticipating how to early the next morning, Microsoft offered third-party respond if a virus struck. One interesting scenario the industry analysts to put the threat into perspective. team had envisioned during these drills involved They also opened the Situation Room to other key opening up the MSRC Situation Room to the media so media organizations, allowing access that had never they would have an insider's view of the security before been granted. response. Over 94 percent of media stories about the virus This would allow Microsoft to demonstrate were neutral or positive. Some reporters and bloggers responsibility, transparency and leadership during such even criticized the media's initial over-hyping of the a crisis. In the case of the Zotob response, it might also situation. quell the alarmist, almost sensational tone and hype characterizing media coverage of the virus—and 'Opening the doors to the Situation Room and change it into straightforward, factual reporting. allowing CNN to tape Microsoft security engineers aggressively working to protect customers was a key But opening the Situation Room had never been factor in shifting the public perception from crisis to done before in Microsoft's history. It was an managed situation,' Gunderson says. 'This was a tactic unprecedented crisis response. that had never been used before and that our clients Serious risks and threats pose roadblocks to were typically not willing to take a risk in doing. It was Microsoft's success. ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 16
  • a proof point that Microsoft and Waggener Edstrom Stop a Crisis in its Tracks: Bulldog Worldwide were dedicated to being transparent about the issue at hand.' Award Winners Offer Tips for Secrets for success: Read on as Gunderson offers Thwarting Crisis—and Restoring tips and explains why this campaign won Gold in Good Faith in the Eyes of the Media Technology, Business and Gold in Crisis Communications at the 2006 Bulldog Awards for and the Public When Crisis Hits Excellence in Media Relations & Publicity: By Frank Zeccola 1. Be prepared: Initiate crisis plans in advance of In the midst of recent events, ranging from the crisis situations. 'Create crisis plans for numerous JetBlue runway debacle and the stock options back- reactive scenarios in advance,' she recommends. dating scandals to Michael Richards's racist tirade and 'Microsoft and Waggener Edstrom's successful videoed rats at Taco Bell, crises are dominating media response to this crisis was dependent on implementing headlines. lessons learned from previous crises, understanding and This can be attributed to a few factors. The media applying transparent communications strategies and has always loved drama and conflict, for one thing. regularly drilling on crisis plans.' And for another, with the Internet, blogs, picture and 2. Schedule regular crisis drills on a weekly or video sharing and other easily published content monthly basis. 'Drill on the crisis plans on a regular available to millions—even billions—with the click of basis,' she says. It's not enough to plan ahead and talk a mouse, there is more information out there about about what you might do during a crisis. As every you and your company than ever before. And there are athlete knows, you must practice, practice, practice to more ways to land smack in the middle of a crisis than achieve the results you need during a crisis. Arrange ever before. weekly or monthly crisis drills with employees, This is exacerbated by the public's growing including meetings with key executives and skepticism of companies large and small. Two weeks spokespeople to rehearse messages. It's not enough to ago in this space, WPR covered Rob Denzen of Tiller have one crisis-training session and expect the best. LLC and his work on the Merrill Lynch Hindsight 2 Crisis preparation is an on-going task. Insight campaign. If you read that piece, you might 3. Don't be afraid to initiate unprecedented crisis- remember one important statement he made: response tactics. 'Even in crisis, seek innovative "Americans don't trust corporations." One might even strategies wherever possible,' she says. 'This team say that many Americans are skeptical of anything with proved that even in crisis, there is opportunity.' a dollar sign attached to it—especially when that dollar 4. Move forward in good faith. 'In crisis, don't lose sign is surrounded by many other dollar signs on a focus on preserving ethics and transparency,' she says. balance sheet. Remember that restoring good faith and goodwill are In this environment, how do you prevent a crisis? In the goals of crisis response. Make these buzzwords your many cases you can't. Crisis experts will tell you that a mantra during crisis and practice sessions, and never crisis will happen. Your job as a communications forget them during the crisis. professional is to have a solid, practiced crisis plan in place before the crisis hits. Once the crisis occurs, you This article appeared in must move forward in good faith to resolve the crisis— Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. and be dedicated to ensuring that it never happens For more information go to again. Secrets for overcoming crisis: Below, crisis experts and PR professionals who have handled Bulldog Award-winning crisis campaigns offer specific tips for dealing with crises and restoring good faith in their brands: 1. Be prepared: Schedule regular crisis drills on a weekly or monthly basis. "Create crisis plans for numerous reactive scenarios in advance," recommends Kjersti Gunderson, senior account executive for ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 16
  • Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, the agency partnering evolved," he continues. "And they agreed that the next with Microsoft during the infamous "Zotob" crisis in product launch they did had to be based on some which top newsrooms across the country were hit with consistent communications—so we decided to hold a virus attacking Microsoft operating systems. The blind tastings with sommeliers and wine makers to test campaign won the Gold award in Crisis the new closure." This allowed Sabaté to get its Communications at the 2006 Bulldog Awards for messages out in a time of crisis. Media Excellence. She continues: "Then, drill on 4. Commit to a long road of crisis recovery. "This those crisis plans on a regular basis," Gunderson says. is still an ongoing campaign—going on four-and-a-half The bottom line: It's not enough to plan ahead and years now," Fineman continues. "To a certain point talk about what you might do during a crisis. As every this speaks to the lesson of PR being a long-term athlete knows, you must practice, practice, practice to benefit. You can't just send your communications team achieve the results you need during a crisis. Arrange out there for six weeks and see what happens. You have weekly or monthly crisis drills with employees, to ensure that your voice is heard long term. Sabaté's including meetings with key executives and commitment to develop a breakthrough product and spokespeople to rehearse messages. It's not enough to their demonstration of honesty, good faith and have one crisis-training session and expect the best. acknowledgement of their shortcomings resulted in a Crisis preparation is an on-going task. laudable response to mistrust and crisis. Other 2. Conduct meticulous research to identify crisis companies might have thought it was a lost cause, but "hot spots." Once a crisis occurs, the first step is this company wanted to demonstrate its commitment research: "Prepare for every crisis campaign by talking to its customers." extensively with the client, listening and asking a lot of questions," says Mary Beth Popp, director of brand This article appeared in public relations for Eric Mower and Associates, which Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. was brought in to handle a crisis that occurred when For more information go to Hutch-Tech High School in Buffalo, New York was forced to relocate students to Kensington, a school in a high-crime area. The campaign won Silver in Crisis Communications in the 2006 Bulldog Awards. "If First Class First Response: Red Cross research is available, do it," Popp continues. "In the Spokesperson Divulges Post-Katrina Hutch Tech campaign, we had someone take notes of every single parent complaint. We had pages and pages Crisis Tips of complaints—and we read through every one of Brian Pittman's spotlight this week: Chris Johnson, them. We categorized each complaint to see where the CEO, American Red Cross Ventura County hot spots were. This way, we knew about Kensington's "I worked in Houston after Hurricane Katrina as the reputation, and we had all of the other concerns right media manager when they moved survivors from the up front." Superdome to the Astrodome," says Chris Johnson, 3. Eschew the "no comment" response—get your who serves on the American Red Cross Rapid story out in front of the media and the public or risk Response and Crisis Response Communication teams rumors and mistrust. "You've got to get your story out in support of regional and national disasters. there—especially in a time and place when your efforts "Folks at the county and Astrodome didn't have the may be under the microscope and you may be resources or expertise to deal with a public affairs issue mistrusted," says Michael Fineman, president of of that size. So that was a phenomenal undertaking Fineman PR, who managed a crisis for cork producer and very worthwhile," he shares. "When you see people Sabaté in 2001 when the company's wine closure, who have been through that much—and to see them Altec, was attacked for being the source of tainted, or still looking for ways to help others … That was "corked" wine. When the company launched a new amazing. That's why I do this," says Johnson, who has product in 2004, Fineman suggested holding a wine held other titles at the Red Cross, including tasting with top connoisseurs to regain credibility in the communications, marketing and government relations marketplace. The results were no less than brilliant. officer for the Pacific Service Area, and chief The campaign won silver in New Product Launch, communications officer, American Red Cross Bay Business at the 2006. "In this campaign, Sabaté needed Area. to provide their point of view as their situation ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 17
  • Here Johnson digs deeper into his involvement in exceptionally well by the press and agencies responding the Katrina recovery efforts—and shares several key, to their requests. hard-won crisis communications tips: What takeaway tips can you give our readers based Can you take us behind the scenes and tell us what on what you saw there? the public didn't get to see when it came to media One of the biggest tips is to build a support team coverage in the Astrodome? now. Try to anticipate whether an event will exceed One thing the public didn't get to see was that I first your ability to handle it. Then put together a team of initiated a 24-hour moratorium on cameras in the professionals in your extended network to help. Astrodome so people could relax. We gave the media Hospitals, for example, might have a small staff to deal tours. They went up five stories and shot down on the with public affairs issues. So the answer is to work with 30,000-plus shelter. They shot buses rolling up. And others. they eventually found people walking outside the In this case, the Astrodome had its own people who Astrodome. But we felt it was in the survivors' best got thrown into our support. We also worked with other interests to be left alone for a little while. Later, the agencies and split responsibilities. The tip is not to go it first media access we gave was to a Reuters alone. Find partners. If you're a hospital and you're photographer—someone with the widest reach and dealing with a spill, for example, then make sure who got picked up by the others. He had to agree to you've already built bridges with the police, health make those images available to all other recognized department, fire department, transportation facilities, media. schools—anyone and anything that might have public That goes to the humanity of this work—the reason information officers in place who could help. I do it. These are people, not media stories. They didn't Another resource is the PRSA. Take advantage of it. want the press crawling all over them during a time of There are a lot of up-and-comers who join PRSA personal tragedy. We counted 135 media vehicles in looking for experience and jobs. There's a PRSA the parking lot. We held twice-a-day briefings and tried chapter in almost every significant city. Try to hook up our best to manage media requests based on public with them to find PR or communications help during a information needs of getting the facts out, making sure crisis. loved ones got the details they needed and so on. The A tip that's not related to that is to recognize that media is a legitimate way to communicate those things. you control the pace of activity. The media will come What was your toughest media relations challenge to you frantically. Realize that it's OK if you aren't at the Astrodome? prepared to step away to take the time necessary. It's One challenge was that while we tried to give the OK in a crisis to say to a CNN producer, "Give me five media what it needed, we wouldn't cater to minutes and I'll get right back to you." It's OK to walk sensationalistic journalism or help them create unique away for a second, review the facts and then come angles out of what was a national tragedy. For example, back. You don't have to be driven by the frantic nature Oprah's people wanted us to identify a family so they of events in front of you or the media's deadlines. could tell their story and then help them out on the show. We're a neutral organization—we can't be doing How can PR managers prepare front-line staff so that kind of thing. The families at the Astrodome they don't freeze during a crisis? needed help, and that was our primary focus. Ensure that they have support and make sure you're available as the leader. That includes things as basic as Dr. Phil wanted the same thing. Reverend Jackson making a one-pager of tips for dealing with the media wanted access. Geraldo and other "news" programs available. Also, practice taking deep breath. It sounds wanted to get in there, too. They each had different basic—but this is straight from the front lines. Deep needs that had nothing to do with communicating breathing gets the blood flowing. It gives you focus. essential information to the families involved. Our desire to be accommodating and respectful was there. Another tip is to make sure you have the right But in light of our mission—to provide for the people on the front lines. Ask yourself who is best immediate emotional and physical needs of those who suited to be your spokesperson in a crisis. If it's not you suffered through Katrina and its aftermath—we or your senior executive, find someone else. Also, make couldn't go as far as many in the media wanted. your first responders comfortable with the type of Overall, however, I think Katrina was handled information they can share, where to go and who to go to when something happens. Put that communications ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 18
  • plan in everybody's hands, whether online or in print. remember that feeling when I get tired of the Test it repeatedly. bureaucracy. It keeps me going. On a different note, set up phone trees for staff and What makes this line of work a good fit for your their families in advance so they can focus on the work personality or skills? instead of the personal calls they have to make to let I've been described as poster child for not knowing people know they're OK. For example, I make my two what to be when you grow up. I've been marketing calls and my family work is done. That allows me to director for Marine World Africa USA in Northern focus on the crisis at hand instead of myself. California, for example. I was the marketing director Another thing to note is that you will feel obligated for Pike's Peak International Raceway in Colorado to multiple masters in times of crises. You become the Springs. I owned an ad agency. I built a museum. resource for everything. So another tip is to have Through all of that, I think I learned how to be a someone step in for you as the communications person decent communicator, how to listen to people, and to do the normal part of your job so you can focus on how to get people involved and engaged. That helps. the crisis. That should be a part of your plan. That's why I took pay cut to come to work for a nonprofit—to help people. How can PR people earn a seat at the crisis table— how can they take control and earn management's What do you do outside of work—how might it respect before bad news strikes? relate to crisis communications? It's a matter of educating management on the tools Not many people know this, but I'm also an you bring to the table. We need to be saying, "Here are illustrator and photographer. If you're a creative type, the things I bring to the group" instead of just, "I need you look at the world with a different perspective. In to be there." It's not enough to want to be there. You've my case, I think that means I often see things from an got to spell out exactly what you'll be doing. Those artistic and stylized point of view. So perhaps my things include internal communications like notifying illustrator side helps me to see through the BS and employees of any given crisis' status, and external realize what the end outcome should be. communications or media training like providing The photography side might be a bigger reach, but I pertinent talking points to senior executives. can say that black and white was the photography It's also a good idea to go in with support from medium of choice before digital cameras came of age. others who agree that communications should be The photographer in my has learned to see the values represented. A good place to start is with the legal and contrasts in a black and white image that others team. Partner with them in advance and get on the might not. Hopefully, that translates to my work in that same page about your involvement and it'll be easier I'm able to see depth and multiple values in crisis with the rest of the executives. One caveat: Stay out of situations instead of just what's on the surface. Beyond the way until a point about communication comes up. that, I think it just comes down to my being a visual That's when I step up. If you stick to doing just that thinker overall—at work and at home. instead of getting in the way on other issues, you'll be invited back. Finally, a good thing to say might be, "I This article appeared in know the table is full. But if I can be a fly on the wall, I Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. believe I can bring value to the way we handle our For more information go to crisis response." What do you get out of this job—why do you do it? It's all about the amazing volunteers who leave their Click of a Button Crisis homes at three in the morning to support to people they've never met. I want to make sure they get the Communications: New Media Makes tools they need to be successful. Mass Notification Essential Katrina is an ideal example: There was a time at the By David Henderson, Author, Making News Astrodome where there was a line of people two to If there is an essential element in today's approach three thousand people long. That line was being to crisis communications—in addition to clear, processed by spontaneous volunteers who just showed accurate and consistent messages—it is the need for up to help. We do that 365 days a year. But when I instantaneous delivery of important and often-critical bump into a volunteer like that, it's phenomenal. I ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 19
  • information to audiences, sometimes to large numbers bring a rash of startups. of people. What better way to communicate while I spoke recently with Patrick Stuver, co-founder of underscoring transparency and responsiveness? It is 3n, a Glendale, Calif., company that has quickly grown akin to that long talked about concept of reaching the to become the largest and only global provider of world at the click of a button. instantaneous mass communications. Stuver, a long- In the aftermath of nearly any event—from the time technology consultant, told me that the idea horrific murders at Virginia Tech to FEMA attempting behind 3n came out of 9-11, and the need to reach to respond to people stricken after a natural disaster— large numbers of people in a short period of time. questions often center around communications and While the pieces of instant message delivery have what could have been done better. It is human nature, existed in one form or another, what Stuver discovered I suppose, to second-guess after the fact, and I have during his initial research was the need for one single been guilty of it, as I suppose many of us have. system that would give a designated communicator the When 9-11 happened, communications were ability to record or write a message, select a recipient paralyzed in some parts of the country. A friend who is group and let the network automatically sort out the a member of congress told me that in her Capitol Hill best way to reach everyone within moments. office, she had no landline telephone or cell phone Furthermore, he envisioned a system that would service and no Internet that day—but her Blackberry confirm when a message had been received. As new still functioned as her only form of communication. communications tools are developed and introduced— Nonetheless, in the aftermath of 9-11, some large such as Apple's anticipated iPhone—the system would organizations merely updated their manual phone trees simply adapt and expand. as a core of crisis communications planning, a woefully An urgent message carried over such a system may, outdated tactic. for example, reach you on your PDA, me via email and The point driven home during any urgent a host of our colleagues in many other ways but all at communications event—in addition to appropriately the same time, anywhere in the world. Stuver's quick responsiveness and clarity—has been the company has that kind of network up and running absolute need to use multiple channels for efficiently today. Many of its customers are companies that use reaching key audiences, utilizing all standardized forms the speed and flexibility of the mass notification system of communication. It is also important to have the for day-to-day communications needs during routine ability to get confirmation a message was received. business. Even though a lot is still to be learned about When you start thinking about the potential of such communications during the early hours of April 16 a communication system, it is not limited just to crisis when a mad gunman went on a killing spree at or emergency situations as much as it can be used for Virginia Tech, what we are seeing is that relying on clear and consistent everyday communications within one method of communications—email—to reach an organization and its various stakeholders. It is a students, faculty and staff was not sufficient or effective. method, for example, for a global corporation to The leaders of Virginia Tech as well as many other interact immediately with key personnel. major universities, governments and organizations are But the underlying importance is in crisis evaluating notification networks that will instantly communications—a system that reaches out to any communicate messages to tens or tens of thousands of standard technological standard or platform for people anywhere, anytime and on any device—such as interactive communication and delivers confirmation landline telephone, cell or satellite phone, PDA, that messages are received. instant message (IM), pager, computer and fax—using It can become another evolving form of New voice and text communications. There is some Media, perhaps one of tomorrow's leading multi-path discussion of including internal television and public tools of interactive communications for communities of address systems and sirens although these are not people with shared interests, needs or missions. commonly associated with mass notification networks today. The idea is a communications network, David Henderson is an author, accessible from anywhere, that can contact essential national/international communications strategist based audiences with voice or text within minutes, not hours. in Washington, D.C., and an Emmy Award winning former CBS Network News correspondent. His latest There are only a few companies today that offer book, "Making News," focuses on the convergence of such services although recent events will no doubt ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 20
  • media relations in today New Media world. coverage. Twenty-four hours after the shooting stopped, more This article appeared in than 500 Facebook groups had contributed Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. significantly to the global conversation about the For more information go to slayings. One group with an astounding 62,356 members, mostly students at other universities, encouraged all to wear VT school colors of maroon and orange Wednesday, saying "Forget any and all Crisis Lessons from Virginia Tech: college affiliations today. For today we are all Hokies." Social Media Critical in Reaching All The group also designated an AIM chat name of Stakeholders "TodayWeAreAllHokies" for a giant instant-messaging conversation. By Jon Harmon, Founder, Force for Good Communications These conversations were not only critical in getting information to people who desperately wanted it; they Virginia Tech will never be the same after the continue to shape the university's reputation with the horrible shooting incident Monday. Neither will the global community of college students, a critical practice of crisis communications at a university or constituency for any university. other large institution. Crisis plans often focus on the mass media with Virginia Tech President Charles Steger is coming inadequate thought paid to other important under a lot of heat, most of it unfair in my opinion, for stakeholder groups. Every large organization's crisis the way the crisis was managed. But unfair or not, the plan should include rapid means of communicating criticism from students, parents, alumni and others is with all stakeholders, in the manner most effective for part of this whole hellish week for Virginia Tech, and it reaching each group. Don't overlook social media, demands a proper response. Diane Sawyer asked Steger such as Facebook for today's university students; point blank Tuesday on Good Morning America if he myspace for today's high school students; and likely would resign. something else altogether tomorrow. Much of the criticism has centered on how the Jon Harmon is a consultant specializing in crisis university communicated to its students and other communications. He is a former Ford public relations stakeholders in the critical two-hour period before the executive who handled media and internal second shooting incident. communications during the epic Ford-Firestone tire In countless interviews including this from the AP, crisis. Contact him at or through Steger has emphasized that the university closed off the his blog, Force for Good. dorm after the first attack and decided to rely on email to spread the word to the rest of the campus. This article appeared in Unfortunately, it apparently took a precious two hours Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. to send the emails. For more information go to Most communications people likely would have followed a similar communications strategy, relying heavily on email to reach students and others throughout the campus. We rely on email and Ford PR Exec Harmon Revisits certainly would check it frequently in time of crisis. Firestone—and Shares Hard-Earned But that's not the way college students communicate Tips for Facing Crises today. Talk to students at any university if you don't believe it, but they rarely check their email; they rely Brian Pittman’s spotlight: Jon Harmon, Director of on Facebook. Students may check their email just Communications Strategy, Ford Motor Company once a week and their Facebook account 30 or more "You can plan all you want for a company crisis. But times a day. ultimately, PR executives would be doing themselves a Facebook was far and away the preferred means of huge favor if they'd just acknowledge that you're never getting on-the-spot information for students during the actually ready," says Jon Harmon, director of first critical two hours and beyond, even after the mass communications strategy at Ford. "Because of this, you media arrived on the scene and began blanket need to think on the fly and adjust in real time. Be ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 21
  • calm. Gather your information and marshal your team became aware of it. We got some queries about it together. And don't over-react or speculate about what through July and August. That's when we realized what you don't know," he warns. we had on our hands. So we held a summit with Perhaps the easiest (and most often overlooked) Firestone management about it over a weekend in strategy for defusing a full-blown media blitz during the August. The following Wednesday, we had a joint news first hours of any emerging crisis situation is to conference in Washington to announce the recall. acknowledge the situation and show that you're There were over 100 TV cameras there that day. The working on solutions—even if you don't have the scope of this was massive. The week before that and for whole picture yet: "A lot of PR people think they need the next thirteen weeks, we were front page news every to get all of the facts and fixes for the problem in place single day in USA Today, The New York Times and before facing the press," Harmon explains. "Big almost any broadcast you could name. mistake. That creates an information vacuum while Where does the Ford/Firestone story fit into the you're working things out where rumors thrive and history of crisis management—what is its legacy your side of the story isn't getting out." alongside Tylenol and Exxon Valdez? Better: "Get out there and say, 'Here's what we know I have come to understand that the Ford/Firestone right now, and here's what we don't know. Bear with us story was the first major corporate crisis of the 21st and we'll get more information to you as we get it.' century. Some things were fundamentally different This defuses the issue and attacks by letting people than the typical textbook crises—Tylenol being good, know that you're working to remedy things," assures and Exxon Valdez being bad. This one was the first of a Harmon. new dynamic because it involved somebody Good advice—especially in light of the fact that manipulating the news cycle that was always "on" and Harmon headed up Ford's media response team during that needed to be fed. They used that to drive the story. the epic Firestone tire crisis of 2000-2001. Here, Harmon—who is also founder of Force for Good, a How was that different from how watchdogs and blog advocating "high-integrity" public relations— others have driven coverage in the past? shares additional hard-earned crisis communications What was different was that the agitators, the tips … and reveals why now is the time to practice plaintiff attorneys, had become very media savvy. They what he calls "aspirational" public relations: were driving the news cycle every day. The news cycle is shorter and the hole has got to be filled. It creates a What was the most intense part of your job during real frenzy. In this case, there was litigation in play. So the Ford/Firestone story? they fed the story bit by bit instead of getting it all out My responsibilities leading and handling the media at once. Specifically, they had documents from Ford inquires were pretty intense—the sheer number of and Firestone and would release a new one every day. them was immense. Many days, there were in excess of They'd call up a major news organization and tell 100 A-level queries coming in. What's more, the lead them about this damning document—and then fax it times were short. Everybody was on deadline. Of to them. course, our internal team—great people—made it I'd then get a call from ABC or whoever saying they possible. But the sheer volume and pace we faced was had obtained this document. What they really meant surprising. was that someone had just faxed it to them. What's I wore many hats during that. I also had more: There was no context, and often the documents responsibility for developing answers to technical were partial. For example, they'd get a single page of a questions about the product. These were coming from 20-page document. the media, sure—but I also had to prepare senior execs My job became to understand the context of the for two congressional inquiries. On top of that, I was content they were calling about—and to present it back responsible for internal communications for all to them [the media]. It would be late in the day. So employees and dealers related to this issue. What I they [the plaintiff attorneys] kept you off guard that remember most is cell phones and pagers going off way, by releasing these things at the end of the day. A constantly. All the time. journalist would be steered to a story with only a piece of the information—and I'd have to respond and How did you first become aware of the crisis—what provide context at the last minute. There was always were your initial reactions? more to the story and our actions were very defensible, This was the summer of 2000—that's when I first ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 22
  • but this forced us to be very, very nimble. Today, I can communications during crises—so it's not just dealing say that we were fundamentally unprepared for this with the outside world and bloggers or traditional type of daily controlling of the news cycle by media media. It's also about reaching your internal audiences savvy plaintiff attorneys. and decision makers within the company. How does New Media like blogs play into this Beyond preparedness, what other issues or trends "hijacking" of the news cycle? must PR execs watch for this year? The next big crisis or time something like this I'd say it's certainly the emergence of New Media. happens, the agitators will work the news cycle as Companies need to realize they no longer control the usual—but they will also include New Media, CGM identity of the brand. The trend to watch is the [consumer generated media], video and blogs. It'll be a decreasing influence any company has on determining whole different kind of whirlwind for corporations to the meaning of your brands. Those increasingly will be combat. I think that, unfortunately, most corporations owned by the communities out there and the will be fundamentally unprepared for this. This is an conversations they're having. era where people, bloggers included, can use New Parallel to this is the increasing influence of digital, Media to drive the news cycle in a sophisticated word-of-mouth communications—how companies can manner. participate and engage in those online conversations will be critical. The way to start is to find them and How can our readers prepare for that—what crisis listen to them. Find the blogs talking about you or your tips can you share? brand. Then become part of that community in a way It all comes down to readiness—get your crisis plans that's respectful of it. It's not your conversation. Listen ready in advance. Don't wait for a recall to happen. and monitor the blogosphere. Invariably, you'll hear First, identify the PR people and outward facing things you don't think are right—incorrect facts, for organizations you have to work with. Get the necessary example, or a perspective that needs to be shared. resources aligned. Meet now to do that. Part of the agenda should be to work through the possible At that point, you need to engage in the contingencies, including recalls and other possibilities. conversation in a transparent way. Say, "I work for X Conduct a crisis audit and game this out in advance. company and you ought to know Y about this post or Have a live drill where you go through something like comment." They, the blogosphere in this case, will this with your frontline people—and get your policies respect that if you don't step on the conversation or try and responsibilities worked out on paper now. Then, to quash it. Instead, engage in it. repeat it periodically. How about launching a blog of your own—is that a Also, realize, as I said earlier, that you'll have to smart way to engage? react on the fly—no matter how thorough your plans Sure. But a company the size of ours must look. Then realize that you have to communicate remember that this is peer to peer communication. So continually during crises. You're only going to know a blog can't be a conversation among your chairmen part of the story in beginning. As your knowledge about and everyone out there. Better is it being an engineer the situation increases, you'll need to keep or product development guy having conversations with communicating and reassuring your publics through people who are peers. Those are targeted media and New Media forums. It doesn't end with just conversations. Blogs aren't mass media. For example, at one announcement. Of course, if there's a human Ford, the idea would be to have someone from the tragedy involved, you must also express concern and Mustang product development team talk about sports compassion for what has happened. cars with enthusiasts. They wouldn't talk about On this note, the lawyers will say, "You can't say finance, because that's beyond their area of expertise. anything." But as a communicator, you need to push So the tip, if this is something you're considering, is the envelope without getting into legal trouble. The to not launch one big corporate blog. Instead, consider way to do that is to not speculate and to share only a lot of targeted blogs that are developed and based what you know. Don't get out in front of yourself. around various communities' interests and passion You must also communicate back to the points. organization so your execs understand what's going on. That doesn't sound like Bob Lutz' "Fast Lane" blog Be sure you close the loop on internal … communications. You are the nerve center of ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 23
  • He has a persona that lends itself very well to bridge your understanding. blogging. But it's still about products, not corporate This goes beyond just the "numbers." For example, issues. For us at Ford, we think the approach that PR gets involved in legal issues—particularly during would work best is to use blogs to engage in targeted crises. You don't have to be a lawyer, but you need to conversations. But the bigger issue is that to get understand the basics of the legal issues you're facing executive buy-in for any of these approaches to enough so that you can communicate them to others. engaging with New Media, you—the communicator— So the larger point is to push yourself beyond the PR must have a seat at the proverbial table. side of the business. As you identify blind spots in your understanding, fill them in. Why is that so critical—earning a seat at the table? Everything in crisis communications and even New Why did you get into PR—what do you love about Media begins with a seat at the table. Companies that your work? don't have active reputational management in year Well, I love media relations. I love the give and take ahead will stumble and take longer to recover from of media relations. Even as this business transforms and mistakes. Where PR is seen as mouthpiece to media or we're not only speaking to mass media, those same mop crew to clean up embarrassing mistakes—those skills of engaging, contributing to the conversation and companies won't have the strong reputations they the lively and back and forth of media relations—it's deserve. fun and satisfying. Some of this is in my personal blog. So PR must have that seat. But not just at the executive table and not jut as VPs of PR. But also down Why did you start your personal blog, Force for the levels—PR must have a seat at various other tables Good? in the organization. For example, at Ford, we're Aside from my role in helping Ford communicate, involved in the product development level. We're there I'm interested in the PR profession and concerned as an input. Companies that don't leverage PR in about the misconceptions that give PR a poor decision making will suffer. But you can't just demand reputation. When I hear people talking about "spin" that seat. and "manipulation"—it causes the hairs on my neck to stand up. I want to do my part to lead us to an So how do you earn it? aspirational vision of PR. Really understand the business you're in. You have to know the industry and how the business operates. What is "aspirational" PR—and how do we practice What's more, you have to not be afraid of numbers. it? Otherwise, you're not credible, and you don't offer real It's got to begin with honesty, transparency and input to other business leaders in the organization. integrity. A blog can embody that. Our whole profession needs to embody that. When we really Do you think PR people are typically "afraid of understand our business, companies and products, we numbers"? can help actively enhance the reputation of our brands We joke about it a lot. But I cringe when PR people and companies by how we communicate and how we say, "I'm a liberal arts guy, I don't do numbers." Don't tell our story. It's clear, especially in the new digital think those words, and don't let them come off your world, that transparency leads to trust and you're lips. It belittles the whole profession. Earn a seat at nowhere without trust. That's the foundation of table by showing that you have business acumen. building a solid reputation. Understand finance and stats. Be able to add that to That said, good communications begins with the your quiver. Other people at the table expect that. right actions—that gets us back to having a seat at table. You have to believe in your company and what How do you add that business acumen to your PR it's doing. You can't tell a tale that's not true. You have repertoire? to tell a side that you believe in. For that to happen, PR Read business books—not just communications must be part of decision making and not just the books or trades. Look at the basic finances of your messenger. company. Review the tables in the annual report. If you don't get it, ask someone in finance at your That's what my blog is all about. I'm not speaking company. Find someone you trust to answer your for my employer in the blog. But it gives me a freer questions. And push yourself to get more involved in hand to weigh in on topical issues in our profession business discussions. Seek out those who can help you and point out the downright bad along with good and ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 24
  • noble. I especially want to concentrate on the positive well informed about. We aimed to position Foster and what's working, because we learn from emulating Farms as an Avian Influenza expert." the right and aspiring to do things the right way. The strategy: Classic public relations response— This article appeared in including strategic crisis planning Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. Fineman had been working with Foster Farms on the AI issue since 2003, before it attracted interest in For more information go to the U.S. "We did a tremendous amount of Internet monitoring, trend and future casting and scenario planning," says Fineman president Michael Fineman. PR Thwarts Bird Flu Crisis for Poultry "We also found and trained highly credible spokespeople, including Foster Farms company vets Producer With Classic PR Response who were well versed on this subject. They made for By Frank Zeccola very credible spokespersons." The Avian Influenza scare swooped through the This prior crisis planning ensured that when bird flu country like a vulture in 2005 and landed in the center hysteria invaded the U.S. media, "we were well of a national media feeding frenzy. Misleading and prepared," Fineman says. "By the time we were set to erroneous forecasts ran rampant of the imminent risks tell the client's story, we had a very strategic plan in and dangers of bird flu in America. Americans, place—and we weren't afraid to challenge the media." consequently, were deceived about everything from Once the crisis hit, catastrophic reports put poultry how you get the virus to how many people would producers like Foster Farms at the center of the crisis. inevitably become affected. "One of the biggest challenges here was going up In truth, bird flu experts knew the disease was not against a media who were espousing what they present in the U.S. and that domestic poultry were well considered conventional wisdom in an alarmist way," protected from infection. But that didn't stop the panic- Fineman says. "Reports claimed that we would all get stricken media from having a field day with the AI and that it would have a huge impact on "epidemic." Americans—and a good part of the spread of disease No one felt the risk more tangibly than poultry would come from poultry. That idea seemed to be producers. The threat to consumer confidence and gaining steam in the media and the public." sales was extraordinary, and any real event involving It was gaining so much steam, in fact, that one bird flu could potentially put a producer out of consumer survey the Fineman team looked at found business. that nearly 50 percent of Americans incorrectly believed AI was already in the U.S., that it could be The challenge: Quell a media crisis—and protect spread by eating poultry and that it was a serious sales and consumers danger to the average American. Foster Farms, the largest producer of poultry on the West Coast, decided to meet the threat head-on with a More great strategy: Differentiating poultry proactive media campaign. They had been closely practices in the U.S. from those in Asia monitoring the Avian Flu crisis in Asia and Eastern A key issue was figuring out why the coverage was so Europe, and they knew that misleading reports in the skewed: "Avian Influenza was being covered from an American media could not go unchallenged. They international perspective," Bush says. "Early coverage began working with San Francisco-based agency portrayed it as an issue that was unavoidable. This was Fineman PR to protect its business and reputation mainly because the media were comparing poultry- with a crisis communications program. raising procedures in the U.S. directly to practices in "We started tracking Avian Influenza in 2003," Asia—which were night and day. One of the explains Fineman vice president Lorna Bush. "It was a challenges was to differentiate the client's practices critical issue overseas, but it hadn't yet made news in from those overseas." the U.S." In the U.S., companies like Foster Farms adhere to But by 2005 and 2006, fears hit the U.S. hard. "It strict ranch biosecurity measures, which ensure that was being covered from a hysterical perspective," Bush diseases like AI do not exist. For example, Foster Farms says. "We designed a campaign to reassure consumers chickens are kept uncaged in enclosed barns so they do and the media about this issue, which our client was not come into contact with wild birds like those that ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 25
  • were believed to spread the virus in Asia. This and Widespread coverage resulted in California, other practices are in place in the U.S. to prevent bird including several TV reports in the Bay Area and flu. Sacramento. After the ranch visit from USA Today, a It was up to Fineman and Foster Farms to get this front-page story followed. From there, coverage in the message out: "We wanted to bring the voice of our AP and the LA Times portrayed Foster Farms as an client into this matter in a way that hadn't been heard," industry leader in AI prevention. Fineman says. "We needed to tell the story that Additionally, Fineman even convinced ABC execs commercial poultry is safe. There are biosecurity to issue a disclaimer at the beginning of a thriller measures in place. AI has never been in the U.S.—and movie that presented fictional info about bird flu in people cannot get it from eating properly prepared America. By the end of the campaign, public hysteria chicken." let up: Fineman found that over 70 percent of With Foster Farms experts prepared and media Americans correctly believed that AI had not been trained, Fineman then brought in third party found in the United States—compared with just 50 spokespersons from U.C Davis, and coordinated with percent before the campaign. organizations like the National Chicken Council, the "It was an international, high-profile issue," California Department of Food and Agriculture and Fineman says. "And we used classic PR tactics and others to broaden credibility. strategies to win the day." They began reaching out to local and regional Secrets for success: Read on as Fineman and Bush media outlets with key messages that were consistent offer more tips and explain why this campaign won across the whole company. "We worked very hard to Bronze in Crisis Communications at the 2007 Bulldog ensure that Foster Farms' consumer affairs reps were Awards for Excellence in Media Relations and speaking in the same voice as company executives, and Publicity: that the website also had consistent and comprehensive 1. Don't get caught unprepared: Take a proactive messaging," Fineman says. approach to crisis planning. "You really have to know Additionally, media outreach was strategic: "We the business of your client in order to get out in front didn't just issue one press release," Bush says. "It was of a big issue," Fineman says. "Don't wait until you very targeted. We then worked with our spokespeople have to react to a negative story line. Know in advance to make sure they would be resources for the media on what's going to trigger strategic communications from an ongoing basis." your client. That's the scenario planning and future casting—and more and more, that's really critical." Site visit: Fineman invites the media to the Foster Bush continues: "One of the keys in this campaign Farms ranch was that we didn't just wait for the media to raise A final component of the campaign involved media questions. We had been tracking the issue—and we visits to the Foster Farms ranch. "We wanted the media really presented the client's story at a time when the to see how stringent the ranch operation is," Bush says. media was building coverage. It was the right timing, "We hand selected media to come onto the ranch on and it helped prevent the issue from being reactive. It two occasions. It was only a handful of reporters, and helped our client become a leader." / we had company vets on hand to guide them through the various areas to show the company's practices in 2. Track consumer opinion through customer- place." service initiatives and online outreach. "One of our strategies was keeping track of consumer inquiries," One key reporter to visit the ranch was from USA Bush says. "We worked with the Foster Farms sales Today. "We believed that once we brought a national team to measure the amount of inquires about AI. We media outlet to see the facility and what was entailed also issued a QandA online and tracked the increase or in the biosecurity measures, they would be able to tell decrease of visits to the website versus calls to a our story to the rest of the country—and that's exactly consumer hotline. This way, we knew that the info on what happened," Bush says. website was helping to reassure consumers. We were Fineman and Foster Farms also filmed b-roll to able to look to those two tools and see the impact." provide to other media outlets throughout the country. 3. Media train and leverage company The results: National media coverage—and a spokespersons to build credibility and authority. "We reversal of public opinion believe very strongly that a PR agency should be ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 26
  • invisible," Fineman says. "The clients should speak for themselves—because that's where the credibility lies. We saw that in advance. We saw the opportunity for client spokespeople—and we made sure they were trained appropriately and won the day." Additionally: "These spokespeople are full time employees—and they are the authority," Bush says. "With media training, they ended up being the ideal spokespeople." This article appeared in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. For more information go to ATTENTION: It is unlawful to copy or electronically redistribute this page without express written permission from Bulldog Reporter. NOVEMBER 14, 2007 27
  • Appendix
  • november 2007
  • Online Reputation Management “ “ Those who make a good impression make more money than those who don’t. Nelson Rockefeller
  • Table of Contents: Overview 4 Definitions 5 The Importance of Search 6 Google is your new resume: How search is affecting your reputation Watch out for Wikipedia Research 7 PR Challenges and Opportunities 9 The Process 10 Monitoring Evaluating Managing Engaging Measuring Tools 17 RSS Readers News Aggregators Reputation Monitoring Services Case Studies 21 USAToday social Media Bomb Dell Hell Podcast Interviews 22 Individual Reputation Crisis – Barry Hurd Wikipedia – Rand Fishkin Resources 28
  • Overview Managing the reputation of the company has long been a core function of public relations. Building a great brand can take years. How people per- ceive you affects your brand value. The advent of the Internet has upped the ante – reputations can be built much faster due to the availability of easy publishing tools such as blogs, online forums, social networks and RSS feeds. Everyone has the power of voice. The transfer of information online is fast and furious. The general public can quickly air their views and these opin- ions posted online can make or break a brand. Consumers trust these pub- lished opinions and base their buying decisions on them. Launching a product offline can take months and cost millions of dollars. Yet one influential comment online could go viral and catapult the product into popularity. But this fast pace can be as much of a danger as it is a benefit. Reputations – both corporate and individual - can be damaged or destroyed by just one blog post from an irate customer or vengeful blogger. Failing to listen to the voices online, be they customers, employees or others - can lead to disas- ter. The explosion of consumer-generated content has made it all the more im- portant to keep your finger on the pulse of what is being said about you online.
  • Definitions Brand What you stand for in the public’s mind. What they think they can expect from your product or service – your ‘promise.’ Reputation How you are perceived. What people remember and say about an organiza- tion or a person. What they identify with that person or organization. Online Reputation Online reputation is similar to the conventional concept of reputation, but in cyberspace. In cyberspace, reputations are easily made due to the rapid rate of transfer of information. But they can also be easily broken, due to the ease of publishing tools for consumer generated content and the lingering, semi-permanent nature of content on the world wide web and the influence of the search engines. Web 2.0 The perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services that allow and encourage collaboration and sharing of content be- tween users. Social network An online space that focuses on building social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or those who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.
  • The importance of Search Engines and News Aggregators “ 7 out of 10 British consumers will not click through to a company’s website if search results contain “ The sheer volume of content online has made search engines and news aggregation sites the vehicles of choice for finding data. 95% of the Internet audience use search engines to find information. The first touch point for your company today is likely to be the Google search results page. What a prospective employee, investor or customer sees on negative comments that page will influence them, one way or the other. about them. Any negative content posted online will be indexed in the search engines and can show up in a search for your name, brand, product or category. And it may take a concerted effort to push it down in the search rankings. These negative comments can spread to the traditional media, compounding the damage. Google results are also the new resume, whether you’re going on a date, getting a job or representing your company. Watch Out For Wikipedia A wiki is Web 2.0 platform that allows many authors to create content in one online space. Originally launched in January 2001 as an online ency- clopedia Wikipedia soon became a reference work with many contributors and editors. Once it was opened as a wiki it grew rapidly and now has mil- lions of articles in many languages. Because it has so much content and it has so many other sites that link to it as a reference, it has garnered top search results on almost any subject. The downside to this is that anyone can add content. And it is not always accurate. If there is content about you in Wikipedia it’s likely to show up on page one of a search in Google for your name, your company or your brand. If you do get inaccurate content appearing in Wikipedia it takes a concerted effort to fix this. Either you take the time to become a trusted editor on the site or you can hire a social media marketing expert who already is an ac- credited Wikipedia editor. Once you have read the case studies listen to the podcast interview with Rand Fishkin on the do’s and don’ts of Wikipedia. The link to the podcast is in the case study. Online reputation management is the new personal branding. Negative content appearing on the first page of Google’s search results have impacted stock prices, cost companies millions of dollars in lost business and affected employment possibilities.
  • Research Roughly 750 million people worldwide over the age 15 (95 percent of the Internet audience) conducted a search on the Internet in August 2007, according to data released by comScore’s qSearch 2.0 service. Being at the top of page one in the search engine results does translate into increased traffic and more sales. Not only do you reach more consumers but those who Internet pre-shop spend more in-store, according to a Score study. “Although recent research cites 89 percent* of consumers shop for information about products online, less than 7 percent** of retail sales actually take place online,” said Amy Vener, Senior Director of Retail Category at Yahoo!” * BIG Research 2007 ** Forrester State of Retailing Online 2007 Consumers are turning to online reviews in large numbers, and those reviews are having a considerable impact on purchase decisions, shows another study from Deloitte’s Consumer Products group. 62 percent of consumers read consumer-written product reviews on the Internet, says the report. More than eight in 10 say their purchase decisions have been directly influenced by the reviews, either influencing them to buy a different product than the one they had originally been thinking about purchasing, or confirming the original purchase intention. They often find these reviews when they do a search. Reputation and word of mouth are the key factors that influence consumers’ decisions to purchase a new product or brand. The percentages are slightly higher for the younger generations, but all age groups are reading and acting on online reviews at significant rates, says the report. The reach of consumer reviews isn’t limited to the online world: seven in 10 of the consumers who read reviews share them with friends, family or col- leagues, thus amplifying their impact.
  • The Most Trusted Form of Advertising In a similar study Nielsen found that consumer recommendations are the most trusted form of advertising, not just among US consumers but world- wide. Over three-quarters of those surveyed - in 47 markets across the globe - rated recommendations from consumers as a trusted form of advertising vs. just 63% for newspapers, 56% for TV and magazines, and 34% and 26% for search engine ads and banner ads, respectively. The chart shows how consumer opinions and recommendations stack up against several other forms of advertising, and the difference isn’t slight. Monitoring these online conversations has become a vital PR function. You need to know what’s being said online and what shows up on the search engine results page. Companies like Dell have felt the backlash of unhappy customers – for more than a year the Google search results for Dell were peppered with Dell Hell (see case study) content. These posts were highly visible and influenced consumers and investors. “ A great brand can take months, if not years, and millions of “ dollars to build. It can be destroyed in hours Brand Value and Reputation According to research from business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information companies seeking to differentiate themselves in the face of globalized competition must carefully manage their corporate brands to by a blogger upset with succeed. The new research concludes that brand value is especially critical your company. during slower economic periods because both companies and consumers look for value and quality during those times. Andy Beal A downturn in the economy is predicted as a result of the home loan and property slump, so reputation management and brand value is vital right now. Brands that connect are grounded in values, culture and authenticity.
  • PR Challenges and Opportunities The PR challenges are pretty obvious: online tools allow anyone and everyone to have their say. And they are saying it. Once word of mouth meant that you could pass information to your close personal circle of contacts. On the Internet that ‘close’ circle might include thousands of people. And due to the rapid transfer of data, it can proliferate and reach hundreds of thousands within hours. If it is negative content this could spell disaster. Forbes magazine referred to this in their article Attack of the Blogs. On the other hand there are PR opportunities too. The recent case of Northern Rock in the UK demonstrated a positive side to online consumer generated content. On September 13th 2007 hundreds of customers lined up outside the bank branches to withdraw their savings as Britain’s 5th largest mortgage lender found itself in a liquidity crisis. As the event unfolded there was a shift in attention from the immediate issue of mortgages to the more macro scope of savings and the economy as a whole. While the mainstream media coverage was focused on the crisis, (no surprise there!) social media voiced alongside concern also reassurance, a sense of perspective and some practical advice. Many individuals across the nation and beyond were informing, reassuring and convincing each other that ideas about withdrawing savings from Northern Rock accounts were irrational and short sighted. It was not uncommon to find criticism of “the media” as over-reacting and “sensation-alizing” the situation for commercial reasons while the real picture is much more balanced, reported research company 1st2c. Web 2.0 offers many PR opportunities. When you embrace the idea that you can and should talk to your customers, vendors, detractors and evangelists many doors open.
  • Process Monitoring – Track what is being said online The first phase of protecting your online reputation is to find out what is currently being said about you, your company, your brands, products and services. There is a conversation going on – in blogs, forums, and comments. As the research shows, these recommendations and opinions from other consumers are the most trusted source of information and the number one influencer prior to purchase. You need a system in place that can find all mentions of your name or brand and an early warning system that can alert you of any situation that needs immediate attention or action. Manual Monitoring Set up an RSS reader – either on your desktop or online. This is very easy to do. You can use the personalized MyYahoo or iGoogle pages. You can use a web based service such as Bloglines. If you want a desktop reader try FeedReader or Newzgator. Create alerts in Yahoo! News. Do a search in the news section of Yahoo! And subscribe to the RSS feed of that search. If you scroll down you will see the RSS icons on the right hand side under the paid ads.
  • How do you sign up for a feed with MyYahoo? Watch a quick screencast tutorial on how to use MyYahoo. Create a search in Technorati and BlogPulse. Subscribe to those feeds too. Subscribe to feeds on industry-related sites. What should you be tracking? • Your company name • Brand names • Product names • High profile executives • Bloggers in your company You should also keep track of conversations about your competitors and generic industry keywords and terms.
  • Prevention is always better than cure Get your monitoring system in place before any negative content finds its way onto page one of the search engines. Constant alertness pays dividends It’s easier to handle one blogger or irate customer as soon as the comment is posted than it is to deal with a storm of negative comments. Managing Once you have all the monitoring steps in place the data has to be evaluated. Resources must be assigned to collect, read and evaluate all the mentions online. Depending on the volume, you can scan the feeds once or twice a day. Yes, it is time consuming. But just think of how much time it will take you to fix a blog storm of comments or to remove a negative listing off page one in Google. Evaluation Is the content positive, negative or neutral? Is celebratory, praising, critical or angry? Are others commenting on the post/article and linking to it? What action needs to be taken, if any? Start a list of the bloggers who talk about your industry, company, products and competitors. Address any positive and negative mentions. Create and build a relationship with these bloggers. Turn them into allies. Find your evangelists and support them. Facilitate their online conversa- tions, if you can. Example: Pontiac Underground This is an enthusiasts’ site created with Yahoo! It aggregates content from Yahoo! groups about Pontiacs, lets Pontiac owners post images and videos about their cars and helps them to find like-minded folk who love the brand. It facilitates interaction and fosters the conversation.
  • Search Results If you already have negative listing in your search results you’ll need a concerted campaign to drive these off page one and two. Although Google’s algorithm is secret and patented, they have been quite open about what they look for in a website: • good content that is relevant to the search term • content that is regularly updated • inbound links from other sites that show that they consider your site to be of value on that search term • the quality of the inbound link is more important than the quantity (.edu, .gov and .org sites get Google’s attention) • the inbound links should be from a site that is relevant – in other words it makes sense that they would link to you • the link should occur naturally in editorial content – it should not be purchased To ‘own’ the first half of the search results page on your company or brand name (and the generic keywords for your business) you need a content strategy. Google will only give you two listings for your website on a search results page. So to get four or more listings on a page you will have to engineer other sites to rank on your keywords. Actions 1. Optimize two pages on your website for the keyword or phrase 2. Find other sites you can support and help them to get on page one for your keywords 3. Start a blog and host it on a separate URL 4. Create a social media newsroom 5. Create fresh content – news articles or press releases 6. Get these out using a wire service (MarketWire, Business Wire, PR Web or PR Newswire) 7. Write educational content about your product 8. Optimize all this content for your keywords 9. Add links to the pages on your site 10. Add links to the other sites you want to support 11. Add tags to your news content 12. Create a ‘tag cloud’ for the media section of your site 13. Add social bookmarks to the content 14. Syndicate your news content in an RSS feed
  • A tool like PRESSfeed * can create the social media section of your website and will give you all the elements you need to get started. Encourage any bloggers you have built a relationship with to link to the specific pages you want ranked using the keyword or brand name. Example Interested in natural skin care? Skin MD Natural is a new kind of lotion that protects your skin and helps it heal on its own. TIP: Use the data you find to increase your inbound links. When you find positive or neutral mentions of your name, product, website or service, check to see if they have a link to your site. If not, contact them and ask them to link to your website. It’s an easy way to increase the inbound links to your website and to build relationships with others who have found your content interesting enough to publish it. * I am co-founder and developer of PRESSfeed Measuring Create some benchmarks. Take a screen shot of the number of blog posts on each keyword or phrase. You can do this in both BlogPulse and Technorati.
  • Note the spike in the last week of October when Jeff Jarvis wrote his follow up story in Business Week about Dell lauding them for their handling of the crisis. (See case study) Then use their conversation tracker to see where the story spread to. Technorati with also give you a chart of blog posts. You can change the time frame on this chart too.
  • Web Search and News Trends Use Google Trends to see a snapshot of your search and news search volume. Keep a base measure of how many posts are being made each day and how many are positive, negative or neutral. Take screen shots of Google’s page one results on all your keywords and phrases so you have a record of who appeared on that page and in what position. Keep track of all these statistics so you can measure the effectiveness of your actions.
  • Tools RSS readers To monitor all the online buzz means you need a way to easily find and scan all mentions of your name, product, brand or industry keywords. There are products and services out there that can do it all for you, but if you want to start on your own the first thing you will need is an RSS feed reader. You will choose either an online version, which is accessible from anywhere on any computer, or one you download to your laptop or desktop. My Yahoo! is by far the most broadly used RSS reader. When Yahoo! did a study on RSS adoption they reported that a high percentage of people using RSS were not even aware of it. And the fact that they slipped RSS under the hood of My Yahoo! without the user having to know what RSS is or what it does was a big contributing factor. The of course there are all those little buttons found on Yahoo sites, partner Websites and blogs who realize just how ubiquitous this reader has become. Rating: A+ for beginners Web applications don’t come much easier to use than Google Reader, says PC magazine. Compared with the venerable My Yahoo! feed pages, it looks sleeker, makes navigation easier, and simplifies compartmentalizing of news feeds. Rating: A+
  • Feed Reader A free reader that is simple to download and use. It is a desktop application. Another good choice for getting started with RSS. Download here There is also a good tutorial on RSS, the Business Case for RSS whitepaper and the 7 step Marketing Plan for RSS on this page. Rating: A for beginners Bloglines Bloglines is a very powerful Web-based RSS reader. Some people find the framed Website difficult to navigate and reading a large number of feeds is not easy in this reader. It’s a Web-based newsreader runs inside your brows- er; no software to install; it’s free. Downside: Bloglines lacks a preview pane for viewing Web pages; no support for tagging. Rating: B Review from a user: Bloglines is a fun and free newsreader that runs inside most Web browsers and is sure to please all but the most discriminating news junkies. NewsGator - FeedDemon The most complete line of RSS readers is produced by NewsGator. Very similar to Pluck, they provide three types of RSS readers; Web, Outlook and a stand-alone reader called FeedDemon. They also have a podcatch- er called FeedStations. NewsGator has better technology under-the-hood and has a more robust feature set. The news-feed-crazed crowd jone- sing for every conceivable bell and whistle will want FeedDemon, wrote PC Magazine. However it can be difficult to navigate and it’s a step down from the easy- of-use found in Pluck or Feedreader. But if you’re an Outlook user this may be the reader for you. ($29.95 USD). A+ for advanced users
  • Brand Monitoring Tools BrandsEye A new product from Quirk Interactive Marketing based in the UK. Brandseye gathers the mentions, evaluates them for tone and content and tags them for follow up action. It can also give you an online ‘brand score’ for your company and your competitors. Now in beta this product will be on the market in the US from January 2008. * Nielsen BuzzMetrics Nielsen BuzzMetrics started as three separate companies, all focused on similar objectives: technologies and solutions to help companies measure, understand and leverage the increasing amount of consumer activity, influ- ence and content—the “buzz”—that was migrating to the Internet and new forms of media. Cymfony Cymfony finishes as a Leader in the Forrester WaveTM evaluation of brand monitoring solutions. Its Orchestra product offers the strongest overall func- tionality, a robust user interface, and the most extensive coverage of data sources in the brand monitoring market. Cymfony is a good fit for compa- nies that want to use brand monitoring services at a strategic level, whether enterprisewide or for specific product or campaign initiatives. BuzzLogic Buzz Logic work like a search engines but instead of a one time search it creates a persistent search. So instead of getting a snap shot of what has happened you can see how a conversation develops over time. This allows you to determine who the main influencers are and where best to enter the conversation. * I have a relationship with Brandseye and use it for my clients
  • What do you do when you find negative content? Here is some good advice from Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim who wrote the Beginners’ Guide to Reputation Monitoring. If it’s true: o Don’t ignore or hide o Participate in the discussion and be honest o Add response to your web site o Issue statement addressing what has been done o Engage crisis communication expert with CGM experience If it’s not true: o Politely request blog, forum, news site owner remove or retract o Consult a lawyer o Contact other blog and forum owners with correct information o Ask them to consider publishing your response o Add statement to your website - work with a search engine optimization consultant to ensure all content has been optimized and will achieve top search rankings
  • Case Studies Personal Reputation Management Lynn Brewer, the Enron whistleblower and USAToday A contributing reporter for USAToday Greg Farrell wrote an investigative piece titled The Enron Whistleblower Who Wasn’t. The focus of the article was Lynn Brewer, a business woman and speaker who had earned a reputation as having been one of the whistle-blowers who emerged from the implosion of Enron. The article attempted to spotlight a series of points in Brewer’s history that would set the stage for defacing her reputation as an ethical professional with integrity. According to a post by Barry Hurd, a consultant for online reputation management, most of this information is inaccurate or misleading. “Greg was provided with actual copies of pay stubs, Lynn’s letter of resignation, travel receipts, parking tickets, and even invited to listen to the audio of Ken Lay’s secretary confirming personal appointments with Lynn Brewer. For reasons that were not very apparent in the article the factual information was specifically left out or even flatly wrong.” Tens of thousands of readers saw the article both in the print and online versions of USAToday. It then went through a week long cascade of being reposted by several online news blogs and syndication services, eventually dying down after a full week of exposure. One of the negative results of this blog storm has been the alteration of the entry about Lynn Brewer in Wikipedia. In fact, the only source for data referenced is the USAToday article. Because Wikipedia gets such high search ranking this negative content in can have far reaching effects. This graph shows the spikes in blog conversation after the USAToday article appeared.
  • During this time, readers of the article and blog posts relayed information to Lynn Brewer (some of it hate mail) and her professional contacts, causing potential damage to both her reputation and the company she has worked diligently over the past 6 years to build. Below is a snap shot from the BuzzLogic tracking of the conversation that shows how some of the conversation spread in the blogosphere. WizBang was the first blog to post from the article. However they were not the most influential - Blogging Stocks has 662 blog posts linking to their story. Listen to the podcasts: Interview with Barry Hurd, author of the Web- ProNews Article Social Media Bomb Sent from USA- Today. Rand Fishkin, social media expert, on the power of Wikipedia and what PR can and can’t do.
  • Conversation Community Unique Sites: 173 Activity Report Unique 862 598 38 62 Conversation: Lynn Brewer (broad search) Posts Total Popular On-Topic Recent Publisher (1 of 15) Rank Tone Content the other phony nobeloney | Attack Machine Oct 12, 2007 Unique Inlinking Sites: 0 Inlinking Posts: Total: 0 | Popular: 0 | On-Topic: 0 | Recent: 0 Publisher (2 of 15) Rank Tone Content Houston's Clear Thinkers: The faux Enron whistleblowers ... of wrongdoing at Enron when, in fact, she was no such thing.. Now, this USA Today article ... Enron whistleblower and "corporate integrity" author Lynn Brewer:. Within the world of ... What this tells me is that the witch hunt mentality surroundi Oct 16, 2007 Unique Inlinking Sites: 0 Inlinking Posts: Total: 0 | Popular: 0 | On-Topic: 0 | Recent: 0 Publisher (3 of 15) Rank Tone Content WE Blog: Open thread 10/12 Oct 12, 2007 Unique Inlinking Sites: 0 Inlinking Posts: Total: 0 | Popular: 0 | On-Topic: 0 | Recent: 0
  • Dell Hell Back in June 2005 journalist Jeff Jarvis, who blogs at www.buzzmachine. com, bought a Dell laptop. It did not work and when he attempted to use the four-year in home service contract he had purchased he got no joy either. He blogged about and coined the term Dell Hell. This post got 112 com- ments from like minded Dell customers. Is anybody at Dell listening? I know you are. What do you have to say, Dell? Jarvis asked on the blog. He also linked to several other places where Dell customers had commented nega- tively about their customer service and their products. At the end of June the saga was still continuing. Dell Hell still burning, blogged Jarvis. He emailed Michael George, chief marketing office and vice president for US consumer business. Result: a customer service per- son called him and said she would read the blog posts. They offered him a refund. Jarvis spoke with Jennifer J. Davis, a spokesperson in Dell’s consumer products group, who said that Dell does indeed monitor online blogs and discussion forums. However, it’s a policy of ‘look, don’t touch’ -- those monitoring do not respond publicly, nor do they try to make contact pro- actively. “The best process for getting issues addressed is to contact us di- rectly,” she said. The PR Challenge “ The age of caveat emptor* is over. Now the time has come when it’s the seller who must “ Public relations has to take on a new meaning, says Jarvis. It can no longer be about the press and publicity, which just separate companies from the public they are supposed to serve. Public relations must be about a new relationship with the public, with the public in charge. beware. Caveat “Their media people were not reading the media that matters: media written venditor*. by their very own customers,” says Jarvis. “This page is already No. 5 in Google under ‘Dell sucks.’ I emailed their media department and told them Jeff Jarvis to read this blog. I gave them a cheat sheet. They didn’t. They failed.” Caveat emptor – Buyer beware At this point traditional media discovered the story and it got ink in The Caveat venditor – Seller beware Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
  • “ Dell Hell did play a role in undermining the company’s credibility in the minds of customers “ A study by Market Sentinel and Onalytica assessed the impact Dell Hell had on their business. It has some fascinating insights into how their story spread on the Web and who linked to it. Did the Dell stock price fall coincidentally during these 6 months or did the and investors. storm of online criticism contribute to this? John Cass Snr. Fellow/Society for New Communication Forum PR Analyst Since the Dell Hell debacle Dell has embraced the online world and despite some rather shaky beginnings they’re seeking to engage customers with a number of new initiatives designed to capitalize on the electronic dialogue using a number of social-media techniques. Among the new initiatives is the launch of a microsite called Dell IdeaStorm that was designed to engage customers in new product development and idea generation. The Dell Community contributed 5669 ideas and the site was promoted 393230 times generating 25153 comments. Their blog Direct2Dell has become a success and during this time period of “ engagement with customers their stock price has risen. They reached out to bloggers; they blogged, they found ways to listen to and follow the advice of their customers. They joined the conversation. That’s “ all we asked. “After giving Dell hell two years ago, I may well be accused of throwing them a wet kiss now,” writes Jeff Jarvis in his latest article in Business Jeff Jarvis Week. The article is indeed very positive. “It’s hard not to praise them when they ended up doing everything I was pushing in my open letter to Michael Dell,” says Jarvis. “They reached out to bloggers; they blogged, they found ways to listen to and follow the advice of their customers. They joined the conversation. That’s all we asked.”
  • Final Word: “ Dell has come so far, they’ve learned to listen, converse, and lower the corporate walls. While this saga Dell realized that engaging in the conversation wasn’t just a way to stop blogging customers like me from harming the brand. We, the customers, bring them great value besides our money: We alert them to problem. We will tell them what products we want. We share our knowledge about their products. We help fellow customers solve problems. We will sell their prod- is not over, this is ucts. But this happens only if you have a decent product and service and becoming a classic only if you listen to us. “ case study of a corporation making a 180 degree turn using There can be no doubt that the proliferation of online publishing tools has led to a change in the method and speed of communication. The Web Tools. ClueTrain has indeed left the station. (If you have not yet read the ClueTrain Manifesto do so now.) Shel Israel, Naked Conversations Customers have found the Power of Voice and they are using it. Brands and individuals ignore the online conver- sation at their peril. It is indeed the age of Caveat Venditor (Seller Beware!)
  • If you found this issue of helpful, you can subscribe to future issues. The cost is $99 per year for 12 issues. For less than $10 a month you get the latest information about online technology that is affecting the practice of PR. Special Offer: If you subscribe by December 31, 2007 you get a discounted rate of $79 for 12 issues and receive a copy of my book WebSense: effective web strategies for entrepreneurs ($79 Value.) This book is an essential tool if you want to know how to make the most of the changing online business landscape. A recent HitWise study shows that search engines, blogs and social media sites are driving traffic and sales online. Are you in the loop? Can they find your site when they search Google? 100 pages crammed with useful tips and information on internet marketing “ strategy and website content that will make your website a success. This book is exactly what I was looking for. Covers: Content Strategy, keyword research, search engine optimization I knew I was missing and visibility, viral marketing, content writing, how to do user testing and the mark with my more. website, but I didn’t know what the secret New sections added on blogging, content syndication with RSS feeds and social media. many other sites and books. “ was. I had looked at This is the one. The Home Business Coach
  • Links to Other Resources: The Beginners Guide to Online Reputation Management. Online Reputation management – SEMPO Reputation management PR University Audio Conference - Brands in Crisis Many traditional crisis plans are so out of touch that they cause more problems than they solve. Many fail to take into account new Web 2.0 realities such as blogging “badvocates,” chat room detractors, social media watchdogs and others with digital chips on their shoulders. Upshot: Many companies and PR pros are not prepared to monitor, assess, counter and command crises in today’s rapidly evolving 24/7 media environment.
  • Train and update your staff from the convenience of your office with PR University’s Best-Selling Audio Conferences Prominent journalists and leading PR experts reveal the hottest secrets for scoring more coverage every Thursday PR University’s audio conferences give you techniques and wisdom from the best in our profession—helping you improve your pitching prowess, grow your career and learn new skills that will make you a more valuable asset to your organization. Whether you want to learn the most practical and profitable strategies from PR veterans or get inside tips and behind-the-scenes advice from influential journalists and newsroom authorities — these audio conferences will fulfill your need for practical, current and instantly-actionable PR knowledge. Each week, PR University brings you a practical, provocative Meet the Editors (Media Panel) or Master Class audio conference you can attend from the comfort of your office. You can also download mp3 audio files of each PR University audio conference through our “On Demand” service or purchase any session on CD. 2007-08 FALL, WINTER, SPRING SCHEDULE Conference Title Type Date Supercharging PR News Rooms: New Ways to Boost Website Traffic, Master Class 11/1/07 Journalist Satisfaction and Media Coverage Pitching Newspaper Business Desks: Leading Editors Reveal Meet the Editors 11/8/07 How to Work with Top Daily Business Reporters Special Session: Using PR to Protect Brands: Crisis Communications Master Class 11/14/07 Vets Share Proven Regimens for Defending Brands When Bad News Strikes Creating a PR Social Media Strategy: New Rules, Roles and Emerging Master Class 11/15/07 Best Practices for Building Buzz and Engaging Audiences Online PR Pitching Faux Pas to Avoid: Top Editors Share How to Keep the Love Alive Meet the Editors 11/29/07 with Mainstream Media SEO Secrets for PR: How to Incorporate SEO and RSS into Master Class 12/6/07 Traditional PR Writing, Releases and Campaigns Special Session: Pitching Multimedia PR on Top News Sites: Meet the Editors 12/12/07 Online Editors Reveal New Placement Opportunities for Video and Audio Write Like a Journalist: Newsroom Vets and PR Wordsmiths Meet the Editors and 12/13/07 Reveal How to Write Compelling, Credible Copy that Sells Master Class Pitching News Services and Wires: How to Get Your Hard News Heard and Seen Nationwide Meet the Editors 1/3/08 SPECIAL SESSION: Email Mastery for PR: How to Plan, Write and Deliver Email Pitches Master Class 1/9/08 That Win Ink Pitching Features at Top Dailies and Magazines: Editors Share Preferences and Tips Meet the Editors 1/10/08 Brilliant Communication Plans in Six Steps: How to Craft PR Programs That Drive Results Master Class 1/17/08 Pitching Blog Sites: Influential Bloggers Share PR Do’s and Don’ts Meet the Editors 1/24/08 Let’s Make Money: How to Prove PR’s Value to Management Executive Roundtable 1/25/07 Placing Spokespeople in the Media: How to Turn Your Expert or CEO into a Media Darling Master Class 2/7/08 Tackling Tough Hits: Notoriously Anti-PR Journalists Share Breakthrough Pitching Tips Meet the Editors 2/14/08 SPECIAL SESSION: Web 2.0 Measurement for PR: Practical Methods Master Class 2/20/08 and Digital Tricks for Showing ROI Online Pitching Business News to Cable: Top Producers and Bookers Share Insider Tips, Meet the Editors 2/21/08 Tricks and Tactics for Breaking into Cable Networks PR Writing That Sells Like Hell: Copywriting Crash Course to Boost Media Hits and ROI Master Class 2/28/08 5900 Hollis Street, Suite L, Emeryville, CA 94608, 1-800-959-1059, Fax: 510-596-9331
  • Conference Title Type Date Thriving in the Future of PR: How Web 2.0 is Transforming the Communications Business Executive Roundtable 2/29/08 Pitching Business Desks: How to Work with Newspaper Reporters Covering General Business Meet the Editors 3/6/08 Advanced Low-Cost PR: Using Guerrilla, WOM and Punk Marketing to Drive Buzz Master Class 3/13/08 SPECIAL SESSION: PR Pitch Fest: Top Editors and Media Masters Critique and Master Class/ 3/19/08 Improve Your Pitches Live Meet the Editors Easy SEO Strategies for PR: How PR Can Leverage Search and RSS to Reach Millions Master Class 3/20/08 Pitching Travel and Leisure: Influential Travel Scribes Share Pitching Tips and Trends Meet the Editors 3/27/08 A Fair Budget Share for PR: How PR Can Lead in Today’s New Integrated Marketing Mix Executive Roundtable 3/28/08 Writing Like a Journalist: A 90-Minute Tune-Up to Give Your PR Writing More Power Master Class 4/03/08 Pitching Radio: Producers, Reporters and On-Air Hosts Reveal Pitching Do’s and Don’ts Meet the Editors 4/10/08 SPECIAL SESSION: More Powerful Pitches: PR Vets, Editors Reveal Secrets Master Class 4/16/08 of Compelling Phone Pitches Pitching Healthcare Media: Leading Editors and Reporters Outline Needs and Peeves Meet the Editors 4/17/08 Best Crisis PR Plans: Proven Models for Preparing Your Organization for Disaster Today Master Class 4/24/08 Increasing PR Agency Profitability Using Ratios and Key Metrics: Executive Roundtable Your Numbers Will Make You Rich 4/25/08 Pitching Business Magazines: Top Business Journalists Share PR Pitching Secrets Meet the Editors 5/1/08 Powerful Storytelling Skills for PR: New Narrative Techniques to Build and Promote Brands Master Class 5/8/08 Pitching Online Influencers and Blogs: Top Citizen Journalists Reveal Meet the Editors 5/15/08 Advanced Blog Relations Tools, Techniques and Tactics Mastering PR Stunts and Special Events: Best Practices for Making a Major Media Splash Master Class 5/22/08 Sell More Products This Holiday Season: Editors Reveal Secrets of Placing in Gift Guides Meet the Editors 5/29/08 How to Create a World Class PR Department Executive Roundtable 5/30/08 Mastering Social Media: How PR Can Leverage Web 2.0 to Protect and Promote Brands Master Class 6/5/08 Pitching Influential Women's Media: Editorial Gatekeepers Share Best and Worst Practices Meet the Editors 6/12/08 for Reaching Millions of Consumers SPECIAL SESSION: Press-Friendly Corporate Websites and Newsrooms: Meet the Editors and 6/18/08 Sticky Website Best Practices to Copy Master Class Pitching In-Flight Magazines and Programming: How to Reach Business and Leisure Travelers Meet the Editors 6/19/08 Fighting Back When the Media Attacks: Secrets of Training Your CEO to Face the Press Master Class 6/26/08 Green PR: How Agencies and PR Departments Can Create Executive Roundtable 6/27/08 Brilliant Sustainability Programs What Your Colleagues Say About Bulldog Reporter Audio Conferences “All the speakers at your recent audio conference, ‘Targeting PR to Tech Blogs,’ were incredibly knowledgeable and gave me tips and techniques I’m already using in my daily practice. These speakers didn't just speak in general terms—they got very specific and shared relevant anecdotes to illustrate their points. Among many insights I picked up was the tip about creating your own blog as a means of building credibility, so you can highlight specific messages you want to circulate in the blogging community. The conference also showed how to make press releases ‘blog friendly’—a technique I wasn’t aware of. I’d definitely recommend Bulldog Reporter’s PR University audio conferences to my colleagues.” Rose Kwass, Marketing Specialist, PC World “I've learned something from every audio conference I’ve attended-when Bulldog promotes a specific topic, what you see is what you get. Jon Greer is a good facilitator—he keeps the panelists on track and he's quick to step in and summarize the major points.” Barbara Gallo, Pershing, LLC, Director of Corporate Communications, Jersey City, NJ For more information on any of these events—or to register—phone 1-800-959-1059 or go to
  • PR University lets you train and update your staff from the convenience of your office — for an extremely low price. These 90-minute audio conferences feature prominent journalists and renowned PR experts — you’re always guaranteed a profitable learning experience. What is an audio conference? • PR University’s conference manual, which includes up-to-the- It's much like a large conference call or a radio show minute, verified contact information and background on the panel, in which you can participate — by calling in question’s as well as additional value-add articles from the archives of Bulldog to panelists. To enter the call, simply dial the conference 800- Reporter number from your phone, put in your PIN, and you're connected! • A full transcript, emailed to you soon after the conference Now you can train your entire staff for just $299 per dial-in site! • The opportunity to connect with any or all of the speakers during (Additional dial-in sites require additional registrations.) the audience Q&A session or live pitch When are the audio conferences held? What is PR University “On Demand”? Most PR University audio conferences are held on Thursdays, and PR University “On Demand” gives you encore presentations of all take place at 10:00AM PT, 11:00AM MT, 12:00, Noon CT, and Bulldog Reporter’s very best audio conferences. 1:00PM ET. If you missed any of our great audio conferences —either Master How much do the audio conferences cost? Class or Meet the Editors events you still have a chance to listen to Number of AudioConference Price per Audio Conference these “golden” sessions. Best of all, you and your staff can Registrations or Dial-In-Sites Registration or Dial-In-Sites schedule “On Demand” training sessions anytime you want — as 1-2 $299 many times as you want. 3-10 $245 (Save 19%) How can I register? 11 or more $220 (Save 28%) To register for any conference, just call Bulldog Reporter’s Client REFUNDS: Cancellations received before 5:00PM Pacific Time two Satisfaction Department at 1-800-959-1059 or go to days prior to any audio conference may receive a full refund, less a $25 service charge. Registrations for each event are accepted until 8:00AM Pacific What’s included in your audio conference registration? Time, the morning of the conference. But because most • A site license to attend the 90-minute conference (invite as many conferences are supported by printed materials, we encourage early colleagues as you can fit around your speakerphone, at no extra registration. charge) P R U N I V E R S I T Y R E G I S T R AT I O N I N F O R M AT I O N J Yes, we wish to register for the following  PAYMENT METHOD J My check enclosed for $ _____________. audio conferences: Make payable to Infocom Group. (please enter dates of events) ___ ___, ___ ___, __ ____, __ ____, Charge my J AmEx J Visa J MasterCard __ ___, ______, ______, ______, ___ ___, __ ___, __ ____, __ ___, # _________________________________________Exp. ________ Name on card __________________________________________ Name ___________________________________________________ Signature_______________________________________________ Title_____________________________________________________ NOTE: Credit card charges will appear on your bill as “Infocom Group” Company_________________________________________________ Street ___________________________________________________ City, State, Zip _____________________________________________ Phone ( ______) __________________________________________ Email (required) Fax (_______) ____________________________________________ 5900 Hollis Street, Suite L, Emeryville, CA 94608, 1- 800-959-1059, Fax: 510-596-9331