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Crisis Communications: oops moments making news

  January 26, 2018

Your company makes a major mistake and the story is going viral.  Do you 1)issue a straightforward apology 2)respond with humor 3)blame others 4)avoid the media and hope it blows over ???   There is no one size solution to a communication crisis.  Take a look at some recent examples of major errors and how those in the spotlight responded.

Hawaii issues a missile alert, when in fact there is no emergency.  It is just one person pushing one wrong button.  Residents spend an agonizing 38 minutes worrying if the end is near.  Hawaii's governor attempts to mitigate his responsibility by, at first saying, his social media team couldn't be reached.  Later we learn the governor didn't post a correction within minutes because he couldn't remember his Twitter password.  If this wasn't such a serious situation, this response would be laughable.  The only good things to come out of this communication crisis is that obvious gaps in the system were brought to light and a pledge to change things.

Vanity Fair is using a different approach to its very public goof.  Its Oscar cover photoshop fail is all over social media today.  Who wouldn't notice when they give Oprah a third hand?  And, did they also give Reese Witherspoon an extra leg?  The celebs made light of it on social media.  What is even better though is that Vanity Fair is using humor of its own to explain the error.  Of course we don't expect Vanity Fair to make this kind of mistake, but they can't hide from it.

Amazon is taking heat for a mistake that is no laughing matter.  The company has pulled products from its site that contained slogans praising slavery.   Facing a possible boycott, the online giant acted quickly and also issued a warning to other third party vendors to follow its selling guidelines.  That's good as far as it goes.  I would like to know how Amazon vets its vendors and how they plan to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen again.  Transparency folks.

P&G, the makers of Tide detergent pods, is tackling a problem that is spreading across social media.   As crazy as it sounds, teens are biting into these detergent packets and videotaping it. The company's CEO says they are working with social media firms to get the videos removed.  Parents with toddlers know these colorful pods can be tempting for little ones, but to think that teens are doing this for fun is unfathomable.
P&G has released a short video with football player Rob Gronkowski urging people not to take part in this dangerous challenge.  I am really disturbed that some small businesses are taking advantage of this situation, creating everything from donuts to rolls that mimic the look of Tide pods.   Is this really how you want to bring attention to your business?

How a company, or individual, responds to a communication crisis, can having lasting impact on the brand.  Timing and tone is important.  The last thing you want to do is to ignore it and hope it goes away.  It rarely does.











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