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News Flash: Dealing with Intense Media Scrutiny During a Business Crisis. Gordon Adams, Senior Vice President, Risk Management and Human Resources, Tri Marine International Ron Gray, Director of Risk Management, AccentCare Joan Gladstone, President and CEO, Gladstone International.

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news flash dealing with intense media scrutiny during a business crisis

News Flash: Dealing with Intense Media Scrutiny During a Business Crisis

Gordon Adams, Senior Vice President, Risk Management and Human Resources, Tri Marine International

Ron Gray, Director of Risk Management, AccentCare

Joan Gladstone, President and CEO, Gladstone International

case analysis

Case Analysis

Ron Gray

Director of Risk Management

AccentCare

crisis communications plan one year before the incident
Crisis communications plan –One year before the incident
  • Formed a crisis communications team
  • Set internal media policy
  • Conducted media training for spokespersons
  • Identified key audiences
    • Who to contact in the first critical hours
  • Evaluated communications vulnerabilities
    • Recommendations to enhance existing procedures
slide4
On Easter Sunday, a customer told one of our restaurant managers that he found a “foreign object” in his French onion soup
immediate response
Immediate Response
  • Apologize for customer’s experience
  • Request object for testing
  • Retain independent investigator to interview employees
  • Discard all but small batch of soup
april 12 may 31
April 12 – May 31

Customer

  • Does not respond to numerous requests to test object
  • Hires an attorney, threatens media
  • Holds object for six weeks, then sends it to lab
  • Asks that all female employees be tested for DNA
june 1 july 20
June 1 – July 20
  • Object finally sent to second lab
  • All female employees agree to DNA test
    • No match to DNA on object
  • The customer and family agree to DNA test
  • The customer fails to appear for test
  • The following day…
plaintiff s attorney emails complaint to all southern california media
Plaintiff’s attorney emails complaint to all Southern California media

“(Customer) has had many sleepless nights…he may have contracted any number of life threatening diseases or illnesses…”

“His wife claims damages for

LOSS OF CONSORTIUM…”

july 21
July 21
  • Implement crisis communications plan
    • Media statement to Orange County Register
      • Post on corporate website
    • Media log
    • Media policy reminder
      • Provide statement to restaurant managers
        • Reminder to refer all media inquiries to corporate
slide10

Stand-by Media Statement - Partial TextWe have found no evidence to support any of the allegations in a \'foreign object in the food\' allegation filed by (customer) against (company) on (date)….describe company actions to date…After a thorough investigation, there was no evidence of any employee involvement or wrongdoing. We believe the lawsuit has no merit and that we will be vindicated in court.

july 21 22
July 21 - 22
  • Story published in the Orange County Register
    • Sets off social media frenzy
    • Conan O’Brien
  • Two L.A. TV stations seek interviews with company spokesperson
    • Provide written statement instead of interviews
      • Avoid lending credibility to the customer’s claim
ktla tv
KTLA-TV
  • Posts company statement, Register story, complaint on website
    • Airs customer interview, restaurant statement

“Dirty Dish – truth or a way to make money?”

kabc tv
KABC-TV
  • Cancels segment after reading corporate statement

“The statement validated why we

should not run the story”

- KABC producer

july 24
July 24
  • OC Register does second, longer feature story on family
    • Adds research that the customers owe $300K in back taxes to the IRS
    • Requested that we provide an updated statement based upon the newer story
outcome
Outcome
  • Blog and reader attention diminishes to zero mentions one week later
  • Little impact on restaurant sales
one year later
One Year Later
  • The customers seek their day in court
  • National media coverage, again
    • Reader support for the restaurant higher than before
  • Case settles
takeaways

Takeaways

Having a pre-prepared statement alleviated undue stress and arguments

Having a media policy stopped employees from discussing the incident.

Media events are stressful, being prepared for one is job security

managing media scrutiny in a crisis

Managing Media Scrutinyin a Crisis

Joan Gladstone

Gladstone International, Inc.

www.gladstonepr.com

slide19

The Good NewsBusiness crises usually provide warning signs, giving you time to planWith good planning, you may avert or mitigate media coverage of the crisis

three elements of crisis communications planning

Three elements of crisis communications planning*

The MediaThe MessageThe Messenger

*you’ll practice in this session

the media
The Media
  • Since you can influence, but not control
    • Traditional journalists: print and broadcast
    • Citizen journalists: bloggers, social media posts
  • Add YOUR media to the mix
your media
YOUR Media
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • Internal media
product recall case
Product Recall Case
  • Website
      • “Dark” crisis page
  • Consumer/dealer letter
  • CPSC news release review
  • Social media
    • YouTube “how to” video

Tell it once, tell it fast

messages persuasive quotes

Messages= Persuasive “Quotes”

Emphasize

Factual information

Authoritative opinions

Concise explanations

Empathy statements (as needed)

anticipate media questions in a crisis
Anticipate Media Questions in a Crisis
  • WHAThappened?
  • WHEN did you find out?
  • WHO was responsible?
  • WHERE did it happen?
  • WHY did you choose this course of action?
  • HOW will you resolve the situation?
choose the right spokesperson s

Choose the Right Spokesperson(s)

Former BP CEO Tony Hayward

“I’d like my life back”

in a crisis good spokespeople

In a crisis, good spokespeople

Provide reassurance

Offer critical facts/clear instructions

Exhibit confidence

Tip: Offer media training before a crisis hits

slide31

Crisis PR professionals can help

you balance many priorities

and meet difficult communications

challenges

objectives
Objectives
  • Learn how to prepare for challenging media encounters
  • Experience the power of teamwork in managing a realistic press conference
  • Learn how to quickly develop media questions, messages, statements and brief spokespeople
  • Assess crisis communications strategies to apply to your organization
process
Process
  • Team assignments
  • Team deliberation
  • Hold press conference
  • Debrief
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