Negative headlines are scary for a bunch of reasons. No one likes to see their name in the news for the wrong reasons. Bad stories hurt revenue, bookings and sponsorship. They negatively impact employee morale and goodwill.
It's not just the rise of the Internet that has changed the way we communicate; the evolution of social media has fundamentally altered the way companies respond to crisis.The power of social media makes it harder to control the conversation.
It follows you, it traps you and in this specific case (like so many others) it can ruin your life. There is no trash bin on social media. Yet it seems to happen time and time again. And the offenders are shocked all the same when they become the victims of their own ignorance. Here is a short primer on how to avoid a bout of public shaming. It's certainly not the authoritative volume on how to avoid and rectify situations like this, but let's use this as a friendly reminder of how to stay out of trouble.
Providing effective communication is critical to ensuring health care workers feel informed and safe at work. Nursing union representatives have clearly expressed that nurses do not feel prepared for Ebola in their hospitals. Media stories have documented how personal protective equipment and training for front line health workers hasn't been available in all hospital locations across the country.
This abrupt about face looked terrible because his retreat stood in stark contrast to his initial proactive "openness." Had he only made the second post, he would have come across as someone seeking to present his story through the appropriate channels. Yet the contrast with his first post made him appear as someone who was fleeing accusations he could not refute.
It's been more than a year since Ford was revealed to be a crack smoker but he has maintained his meaty grip on power, and is currently dominating the media coverage of Toronto's upcoming municipal election. To pull this off, Ford has redefined the art of crisis communications, demonstrating that you can survive scandal by simply avoiding the truth or drowning it out. Ford is not, of course, the first to use silence, denial and obfuscation to advance his own interests.
Although the CEO is just one person, they should empower their team to become brand advocates. By engaging employees at all levels in your company's vision and values, and encouraging them to experience your product or service, there is a greater chance they will feel more connected to the brand and will talk positively about the company to friends and family.
Despite the importance of crisis preparedness in a 24 hour news cycle, many companies still don't have a crisis communications plan in place. Instead, they either hope one will never happen or figure they can "wing it" when a crisis eventually does occur. Simply put, not having a crisis plan in place is like playing Russian Roulette with your company's brand.
The daily, international circus that Rob Ford is circumventing so disastrously right now demonstrates why it's so important to have a Crisis Communications Plan and stick to it. In every crisis there is an opportunity to learn and to grow and to become stronger. Here's hoping that this week is a little quieter for Ford.
There is a consensus among PR commentators that the rail company at the centre of the Lac-Megantic tragedy violated basic crisis communications principles. Among them, executives from the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway failed to: arrive on the scene quickly; empathize with those affected; and, acknowledge responsibility for their role in the tragedy. How could the company have gotten it so wrong?