Volume 3 | January/February 2019
Welcome to GroundFloor Media’s Crisis Communicator, a regular eNewsletter from GFM’s Crisis Communications & Reputation Management practice. In this issue, we discuss:
  • The biggest PR disasters of 2018
  • Top things to remember during a crisis
  • Conferences and events where we are speaking
  • GroundFloor Media and CenterTable top $80,000 in grants to community nonprofits
  • Media coverage of issues and trends we are following
  • How to Tackle Big Goals: Pro-Tips from a Black Belt and other recent GFM and CenterTable blog posts

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.

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 .
The Biggest PR Disasters of 2018
By Jeremy Story
There is never a shortage of companies and people making PR mistakes, and 2018 was no exception. Here’s a look back at some of the year’s biggest:

ROSEANNE BARR – There has always been a fine line between creative genius and mental illness, and it can be argued that Roseanne wobbled along that line when she melted down on Twitter in May. Riding high from the return of her groundbreaking television show, “Roseanne,” the mercurial star made outrageously racist comments about a former advisor to President Barack Obama. ABC immediately canceled her show , then revived it as a separate show, “The Conners,” that does not include her.

APPLE – The computer giant started 2018 with the corporate equivalent of a big New Year’s Day hangover when it was disclosed that the company was throttling iPhone performance to maximize battery life . While that trade-off is one that many might willingly choose, the fact that they didn’t let consumers make their own decisions was at the heart of the problem. Apple apologized and quickly offered an inexpensive battery replacement program for older phones, but the company still got a tidal wave of “planned obsolescence” stories that questioned its integrity.

HAWAII – January is a lovely time to visit the warm shores of Hawaii, but tourists and residents alike got more than they bargained for last year when an emergency alert was erroneously distributed across the islands via television, radio and text message. The alert – “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL” – was even more ominous given the rising tensions between the United States and North Korea over the latter’s missile tests. A second alert describing the first as a false alarm wasn’t issued until 38 minutes later. The FCC and the Hawaii House of Representatives investigated the incident, which resulted in the state’s emergency management administrator resigning.

NEW YORK CITY and NORTHERN VIRGINIA – Amazon has grown to be one of the world’s most valuable companies by ruthlessly weaponizing data and information, and it is no surprise it would take the same approach to selecting its second headquarters, dubbed Amazon 2. The company pitted cities against each other as it extracted every concession possible from those vying to be its future home. As the process played out and media started disclosing exactly what cities were offering the $775 billion company – everything from billions of dollars in tax incentives to dedicated Amazon-only cars on local light rail systems to an exclusive Amazon-only lounge at the local airport – public sentiment turned against the process and the company. Citizens were outraged at the perks being offered, and when Queens, N.Y. and Crystal City, Va. won the new headquarters in a dual decision, leaders in those cities suddenly had to answer to angry constituents .

You can read the full list of the year’s biggest PR disasters on the GroundFloor Media blog.
Top Things to Remember During a Crisis
By Gil Rudawsky
Surviving a crisis means keeping perspective. Here are some of the top things to remember when the pressure is on:

  1. Timing is Crucial. The speed of a crisis can be overwhelming. You have to react immediately or you will remain stuck behind the conversation.
  2. Don’t Forget Employees. There is no greater community ambassador than an employee. Treat them like other valued audiences.
  3. Social Media has Changed Everything. The ability for one or two disgruntled customers to get attention has never been greater, not to mention viral advocacy campaigns that can damage business and ongoing reputations. Determine who is monitoring and if/how to respond on all social media platforms.
  4. It Isn’t Personal to Media. Media cover a crisis because they think it is a good story, not because they have a vendetta against you.
  5. A Crisis is Like a Boxing Match. Even if you win, you are going to hurt for a little while.

You can read the entire list of tips on the GroundFloor Media blog.
Conferences and Events Where We are Speaking
By Jeremy Story

The members of GFM’s Crisis Communications & Reputation Management practice speak regularly at conferences and events. Earlier this month, we presented to the University of Denver’s Daniels School of Business and the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information. Our upcoming events in February include:

If you are interested in having one of our team members speak at your event, please contact Gil Rudawsky .
The GFM and CenterTable ‘Get Grounded Foundation’ Tops $80K in Community Grants
By Laura Love

Giving back is embedded in our culture and is a core value of GroundFloor Media and CenterTable. Since our inception in 2001, we have been committed to investing in our community.

We typically aren’t braggadocios, but as a small business we are very proud of our efforts as a company and the impact our employees make in the community. The full details are included in our first-ever Community Impact Report , but a few of the highlights are:

  • Our Get Grounded Foundation has given back $81,000 to community organizations through nearly two dozen cash grants.
  • Our team has volunteered more than 2,000 hours to local nonprofit organizations.
  • Our team members serve on more than 20 boards and committees, helping impactful nonprofit organizations make meaningful contributions to their communities.

As you can see from our report, all of us wholeheartedly believe that giving back in all shapes and forms strengthens our community, brings people together, provides us with valuable experience and insight and offers balance to our personal and professional lives.
What We're Reading
By Jim Licko

The Drum
The ups and downs of Twitter in 2018 were palpable. From slowing user growth and a subsequent falling stock price to growing time spent per user on the platform, back to security and user data issues. Through it all, brands and executives continue to find unique and creative ways to interact with audiences on the platform – this article highlights some of the best from 2018.

If you’re looking for an intelligent mind to help you think strategically about the year ahead, Seth Godin is always a great place to start. In his opinion, “marketing with people instead of at them” will be crucial in connecting with your audiences in 2019.

Facebook’s privacy issues were definitely a top storyline in our industry this past year. But don’t expect the backlash to be too significant for marketers moving forward.

The way individuals use social platforms and consume media has continued to evolve, as have the features, bells and whistles of the platforms themselves. As such, evolving our storytelling approach to digital content strategy will be imperative as we look to 2019.
Recent GFM Crisis & Issues Management Blog Posts
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