Volume 5 | June 2019
Welcome to GroundFloor Media’s Crisis Communicator from GFM’s
Crisis Communication & Reputation Management practice.

PR Disaster of the Month – The Boeing Company
Boeing remains our PR disaster of the month, continuing what is now a four-month run. The most damaging crises are those where you remain stuck without a clear resolution – think Malaysia Airlines when cable TV news covered its missing Flight 370 for months on end. Boeing finds itself in a similar situation, since it is unclear when its 737 Max planes may get the green light to fly again. Meanwhile, media are penning sidebar stories about the history of quality complaints at the facility that produces the 737 Max and whether flyers will trust the plane when it does return. 

The lesson: Each crisis has its own story arc, and your job is to figure out how move along it as quickly as possible.
Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions During a Crisis
As crisis communications counselors, we’ve seen smart executives make poor decisions in the heat of a crisis. Why do they do that? Communications experts Peter Barrett and Jamie Diaferia presented a snapshot of how a host of cognitive biases work to undermine crisis strategy and leadership . The short version: Executives “readily underestimate the physiological and emotional impact of stress on human behavior. ... In live crises, surrounded by angry customers and prying journalists, agreed upon strategies and response protocols can quickly disintegrate as even senior decision-makers are prone to prevaricate or panic.”

The lesson: Take the time to build a thoughtful crisis response plan and then avoid the emotional temptations (i.e., panic) to deviate from it.
VW Shocks Marketing Industry with 'Dieselgate' Ad Campaign
Conventional wisdom says that brands should turn the page following a crisis by running marketing campaigns that address customer concerns without ever mentioning the original crisis itself. Volkswagen is challenging that time-tested approach with its new ad campaign that references its “Dieselgate” emissions scandal . As Fast Company noted, VW is using Simon & Garfunkel in a new campaign that “to directly address the ongoing problems stemming from a diesel emissions scandal that began in 2015 in order to move on from it.”

The lesson: Social media, a shortening media attention span and scandal fatigue have all changed the landscape of how a crisis affects companies. Don’t be afraid to test rules that may have outlived their usefulness.
Why Americans Changed their Minds So Quickly on Gay Rights
As marketers and public relations practitioners, we’re always interested in understanding how to change public opinion, and there may not be a more dramatic shift than gay rights in America over the past 15 years. So how did that happen so quickly, at least in historical terms? A study released by a Harvard professor argues that found that “ the answer lies in human behavior and demographic realities , as well as a winning strategy by gay rights activists that capitalized on both.”

The lesson: The fight for gay rights was a ground game, and proximity and visibility were the winning tactics. As more gay Americans came out (particularly family members and television characters), the concept of “being gay” became less threatening. 
Uber's IPO Fizzles, In Part Due to Non-stop Crisis Issues
Uber has had more than its share of PR disasters over the past few years – privacy and tracking concerns , erratic behavior from its CEO , a plot to evade regulators through a complex program named “ Project Grayball, ” allegations of systemic sexual assault , being banned in London , etc. – and they may have played a role in the company’s disappointing IPO in May. Shares dropped 7.6% on its first day of trading, and it has taken more than a month for shares to climb above water.

The lesson: Get your public relations house in order before asking investors to trust you.
Save The Date: 'Get Connected' Media Panel Discussion
GroundFloor Media will host our annual “Get Connected” Media Panel in September. Details are:

“Get Connected” Media Panel
4-6 pm, Thursday, Sept. 12
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Denver, CO 80204

This year’s topic is Preparing for the Increasingly Digital Nature of News , and it will feature some of the most socially active and digitally savvy reporters in Denver as panelists.
About Us
For nearly 20 years, leading companies and organizations in Colorado and across the country have relied on GFM to help prepare for, manage and recover from crises. Today, our crisis and issues management practice is led by Jeremy Story and Gil Rudawsky , two journalism and public relations veterans who over the courses of their careers have worked with some of the country’s most recognizable companies in the financial services, healthcare, transportation, professional services, energy, education, retail and food-and-beverage industries.

If you would like to learn more about preparing for, managing or recovering from a crisis, please visit our website or contact us at crisis@groundfloormedia.com .
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