Every business has lines that just cannot be crossed--whether by an executive, a company pitch person, a celebrity partner or any employee. The anti-Semitic statements by Ye and his doubling down on them, left his business partners and others no choice but to cut ties with him. Adidas was slow reacting but in the end realized there was no other option.
Hyundai is dealing with another sort of crisis. Two of its US based auto parts suppliers have been accused of violating labor laws by employing underage workers. The global president of the Korean automaker says the company is "severing relations" with the suppliers. He also announced that Hyundai is investigating its network of US suppliers to make sure they only do business with those who don't violate company policy and labor laws. Nothing like a story of 12-year-old factory workers to throw a company into damage control mode.
Beyond Meat took action when its COO was arrested after an alleged road rage assault. To make this story even more tawdry, it was reported that the executive bit the nose of the other driver. Pretty hard to put any positive spin on news like that. The company at first suspended the COO and later accepted his resignation. This is the type of behavior any company would want to distance itself from.
When negative news coverage and a social media firestorm hits, there is no time to waste. If your executive team has already had some crisis communications training, you'll have a good starting point.
- Determine if company policy has been violated or if your company values have been broken.
- Issue internal and external statements making the company position very clear.
- Either sideline the offending person/organization/business or cut ties all together. This is a difficult decision but waiting too long to act could be a costly mistake.
- Monitor social media feedback and traditional media coverage.
- Get input from your legal team, employees and impacted community groups.
- Brainstorm about positive stories you can pitch once the current crisis is resolved. With a bit of luck another big story will soon break elsewhere--taking the spotlight off of your firm.
In a media training session that focuses on crisis communications, all sorts of crises can be gamed out. One scenario we always include is: how to react if a CEO or COO is accused of wrong doing. Everything from harassment to public outbursts to criminal behavior are real possibilities. Better to plan for the worst than be paralyzed if it happens to your company.
Crisis Communications by Women Media Pros