Crisis Report Card: Merck CEO Moves First; Kaspersky CEO Gets Blustery

Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing

Former House speaker Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with the phrase “All politics is local.” That used to be the rule. But when a tweet can launch a boycott in the blink of an eye, it’s more like “All business is political.”

If you work on the communications team for any large company or well-known brand, you are listening carefully to every tweet or post anywhere on the planet. Not only might it influence your global reputation, but who knows when one might make you the target of the week in Washington?

Just ask the folks at Kaspersky Lab or Merck or, frankly, any of the other companies with a CEO who has served on one of President Trump’s advisory councils.
Imagine you’re head of communications for any of the companies that was invited to serve on one of the president’s advisory councils.

At first you probably saw it as a great opportunity for visibility and access to the powers that regulate your business. Then, as the president becomes increasingly controversial and unpopular, social media begins to simmer with calls for a boycott. Next, organizations like Color of Change are publicly pressuring your CEO to quit the council.

Then, two weekends ago, just as you were enjoying a lovely summer’s day, your phone starts to beep with news alerts of violent protests in Charlottesville, Va. Tragic though it was, chances are that you went on with your weekend.


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