Just a Thought
"The formulation of a public relations strategy properly begins with listening, not talking."
From the Editor
As Chipotle is being bombarded with issues stemming from customer illness incidents involving E. coli and norovirus, the recently beleaguered Blue Bell is bringing its ice cream back to store shelves.
Blue Bell has really amped up the communication for its return, putting out multiple press releases sharing information which has been widely distributed to the media and promoted with a splash screen right on its main website. This is especially important because a big part of what made the creamery's crisis so dangerous to start with was a severe lack of messaging, and in particular a seeming lack of compassion for those affected.
Of course, Blue Bell's return hasn't been stumble-free. A statement released January 7 was meant to detail enhanced testing procedures and safety protocol, but instead spooked shoppers when some media outlets took the sentence,
"We have identified locations where suspected Listeria species may be present in our facility, and we continue to extensively clean and sanitize those areas and make additional enhancements to the facility and our procedures based on the environmental test results"
to mean that contaminated product was once again an issue.
A quick clarification (and likely frenzied behind-the-scenes effort by the company's crisis and media teams) laid that issue to rest, with corrections and stories featuring their updated statement clarifying that,
"we have identified suspected areas where bacteria may be present but in no case have we confirmed Listeria monocytogenes."
Also violating a tenet of effective public communications - if you use jargon, explain it in plain English as well.
Does it seem a bit risky to tell the public that any areas have been identified as possibly containing bacteria? At first glance, yes. But think about it - would you rather know a food manufacturer which had previous issues was actively identifying, dealing with, and talking about potential risks, or hear about it when the media digs through records from regulators and reports it instead?
Higher ups at Chipotle are all but certain to be watching Blue Bell closely, and if they're smart they'll take notes on what works and what doesn't. As for Blue Bell itself, the crisis is certainly not over, but they're making great strides and barring further incident and the always-present risk of major market shifts, it should be possible to fully recover.
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Here, we share a look at some of the most popular posts from recent weeks:
When it comes to setting aside limited budget funds for crisis management efforts it often takes hard facts to convince decision makers. If you need some ammo for your next conversation, Chipotle and the Cost of Crisis has plenty.
In today's reputation-centric business world, Brand Citizenship and Crisis Management go hand-in-hand.
Nonprofits share many of the same issues that plague their for-profit cousins, along with unique challenges of their own. Nonprofit Communication and Crisis Management examines trends in how these orgs will do business over the coming year, and what you can expect to make a major impact.
Like it or not, the internet and social media have forced communications to be a two-way street. Crisis Management Quotables...on a Dialogue with Millions takes a quote pointing out this fact and dives deeper into the subject.
We got specific with nonprofit comms, but what about specific trends for all businesses? Don't panic! Business Communications in 2016 is waiting for you.
When it Comes to Hacks, Don't Count on Disclosure. It's unfortunate but true. If Microsoft didn't inform over 1,000 Hotmail users that their accounts had been compromised then why assume other services will tell you?
Drawing an interesting comparison between the human body and corporate apologies, Anatomy of a Corporate Apology delves into what it takes to make, "We're sorry" stick.
Do you have a topic you'd like to see featured in our blogs? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and there's a good chance you'll be seeing it right here in the next issue!
(aka blatant self-promotion)
Are There Any Holes in Your Crisis Planning?
Your organization may well have crisis prevention and response-related plans in place - but are you sure they're going to cover all the bases? Bernstein Crisis Management's Crisis Document Audit is a low-cost, flat-rate service which will quickly provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your existing plans and recommendations for improvement.
We're Giving Away Keeping the Wolves at Bay
Keeping the Wolves at Bay, the widely used media-training manual published by Jonathan Bernstein, is now being given away in its PDF format. Formerly $10, there will be no charge for the publication as long as demand exists.
Exciting New Services from Bernstein Crisis Management
We are are proud to introduce two new services that will allow us to better meet the needs of our clients!
First, from entering new markets to defending billion-dollar established industries,
BCM's public affairs practice
, led by twenty year veteran Greg Brooks, will help you win the battle for the hearts and minds of audiences from City Council to the halls of Congress.
Our second addition is based on the belief that an important piece in managing a crisis includes attending to the emotional reactions that influence the outcome. Presented and facilitated by Steven Degelsmith, Ph.D., our focused
human factors in crisis management service
will equip you with the tools you need to handle even the most volatile of situations.
Social Media Crisis Training
A solid social media manager has quickly become a must-have for organizations of any size, and can make an immense difference by driving in customers and building your positive reputation online.
The problem is, the vast majority are simply not equipped to even identify building crises, much less take the steps necessary to cope with and mitigate the damage that can result.
That's where we come in.
Bernstein Crisis Management is now offering crisis management training for social media managers, both independent and in-house, as well as social media firms.
Jonathan Bernstein is both publisher of Crisis Manager and president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting.
Write to Jonathan at:
Erik Bernstein is vice president of Bernstein Crisis Management. Erik started with BCM in 2009 as a writer and subsequently became social media manager for the consultancy itself as well as for a number of BCM clients before moving to the VP position.
Write to Erik at:
Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. is located at 700 S. Myrtle Ave., #404, Monrovia, CA 91016. Telephone: (626) 825-3838.
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