We expected good things from 2021. Instead, it delivered large doses of frustrating virus protocols, political turmoil, mistrust, disinformation and reputation gaffes. Classic PR blunders generated headlines when leaders failed to learn from history. Here are a few cautionary tales as we look to 2022.
Stories by Deborah Hileman
Reading McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski’s ill-conceived comments about recent shooting deaths of two children in Chicago (including one in a McDonald’s drive-thru) prompted out contributor to write about the Emotional Intelligence Quotient, or EQ.
Like many social media platforms, Facebook is no stranger to reputation crises. How Facebook and other companies have managed them offers lessons in how to (and not to) address stakeholder concerns and shore up reputation when the proverbial excrement has collided with the rotating blades.
Clearly, PR pros should update crisis communication plans to assure that weather and natural disasters are considered more likely, even in unlikely regions and at unexpected times of year. For organizations that lack a disaster communication or operation plan, there are free resources online that make planning much easier.
Each year, the Institute for Crisis Management (ICM) tracks crisis-related news stories, classifying them as “sudden” or “smoldering” and putting them into one of 16 categories for its annual report.
Societal improvement can be frustratingly slow. As a business leader and communication professional, I find it painful watching organizations repeatedly fail to learn from their mistakes.
Gone are the days when companies could comfortably stay out of the U.S. socio-political morass. The old strategy of remaining silent or neutral quickly riles customers and other stakeholders in today’s charged, social media-savvy culture. For most brands, it is hard to imagine how taking a stand on a political hot potato won’t alienate customers. Yet, when done correctly, taking a political stand can build brand and employee loyalty.
Every day, another organization finds its way into the headlines embroiled in a once-preventable crisis that threatens its reputation, financial health, even its very survival. In this age of instant global communication, no organization is immune. Entire companies and their stakeholders can suffer from the consequences of poor decisions made by people at every level of the organization. Often, powerful cultural influences in an organization disguise the warning signs that can identify smoldering issues that spell disaster.