Archive for the ‘Crisis PR’ Category

Trust and restoring broken reputations

February 11, 2017

Maurice McCabe

If things weren’t bad before, they became even worse this week for An Garda Síochána when it was revealed that an “incorrect” sexual abuse file was held against Maurice McCabe by Tusla, the family and child protection agency.

Everyone in the media is being extra careful to avoid stating the obvious conclusions as they risk getting into trouble legally. However, they have published the various statements by those parties involved and reported the facts as they came to light and they keep probing and probing for the truth in this sinister mess to reveal itself fully.

Incidents like this demonstrate once again why we need professional, intelligent journalism to bring us the truth as we can’t rely solely on social media to deliver this. Social media is fantastic as it gives us a powerful voice to demonstrate our dissatisfaction as loudly as we feel is appropriate.

We heard the statement by the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the leader of the organisation who has claimed that she know nothing of the sexual abuse shenanigans with the whistleblower, Maurice McCabe.

Tusla in the meantime have issued their own statement claiming that their file against Maurice McCabe with the atrocious false claims against him were a ‘clerical error‘.

The comical little addition to the Tusla story was that their official apology to Maurice McCabe was sent to the wrong address!

The public are no fools and the generally held, unsurprising conclusion about this story is that senior members of the Gardaí who were unhappy with their whistle blowing colleague tried to smear his reputation in the worst possible way to punish him and protect themselves.

Even worse in this sorry saga, Tusla were obviously happy to play ball with their Garda acquaintances.

This stinks to high heaven and leaves all of us with two awful conclusions:

We cannot trust An Garda Síochána and we cannot trust Tusla.

When you consider the crucial role that both of these state bodies are paid to provide, ‘trust‘ is not a negotiable, nice to have attribute. Trust is everything.

What next?

To begin the long road of rebuilding trust in both organisations there can be no more fluffing about and decisive action and clear communication is required.

Our strong advice to those in charge would be to get ahead of the story, remove all doubts and demonstrate in no uncertain way how important regaining trust is.

This is the time for An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny or Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to take decisive action and remove Nóirín O’Sullivan from her role and get the investigation started immediately.

This is the time for Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone to demand a 100% honest statement from the CEO of Tusla, Fred McBride as to what actually happened. If this is as farcical as the ‘clerical error’ statement, he should also be removed from his role.

The reputation of these two state organisations is not negotiable – start demonstrating it.

Greg Canty 

Fuzion provide Crisis PR services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

 

 

 

 

Your past biting you in the ass

October 10, 2016

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton in her car heading to the airport having left the Presidential debate with Donald Trump. This was one of the biggest moments in her whole life as it was his.

Many of the reviewers of the debate criticised her as she failed to land the killer blow over the comments he was caught making on his famous bus ride.

The truth was she couldn’t land the killer blow because of what her husband Bill got caught doing when he was President, which Donald correctly stated was one of the worst incidents ever for a US President!

Sitting in her car she knew it and of course Bill also sitting in the car knew it. What was she thinking, what did she say?

“Love you dear” 

“Love you too”

Both Donald and Hillary are both caught in a horrible loop because of their past but at least in her case it wasn’t her who did the particular deed.

While it’s easy for all of us to stand in our glass houses we are being reminded of the valuable lesson that crazy stuff we might do today could easily bite us in the ass just when it matters most.

P.S. We don’t all talk like that in the locker room.

Greg Canty 

Do we have a hunger for bad guys?

August 24, 2016

Pat Hickey - Olympic Council of Ireland

At the moment we seem to have an insatiable appetite for the bad guys – this often seems to start with the media, with us happily jumping on the bandwagon, lapping up all of the attention grabbing and often sensationalist headlines accepting all of what is being said without question.

Maybe all of these ‘shameful characters‘ are as guilty as they are portrayed and maybe they deserve all of those rotten tomatoes and for their reputations to be destroyed irrevocably.

However, maybe we don’t know the full stories and maybe just maybe the process of delivering those shocking, sensationalist headlines isn’t always that robust?

In the course of our Crisis Communications work we have seen 100% incorrect situations being portrayed by the media in a particular way, which would have Mr and Mrs Everybody unfairly believing the worst and as a result solid reputations are destroyed forever.

It can happen easier that you may think..

  • someone with a gripe concocts a story about their target
  • they start a disingeneous “legal process” against their target
  • the legal documents get deliberately leaked to the media
  • a “hungry for a great story” journalist gratefully accepts the gift and starts to write their sensational story
  • the target is told there is a piece being written about them the next day including the detail from the legal document (bear in mind if you are explaining you are always losing) – any comment the journalist asks? – this is offering a right of reply (they did ask = technical fairness)
  • the flustered target (often not used to dealing with the media) might say “no comment” (solicitors often give this normally suicidal advice) or they might in the best possible way try to give responses to the accusations
  • the article appears in the newspaper complete with the sensationalist headline “Greg Canty (it could be you!) accused of embezzling funds
  • the radio stations pick up on the story and interview the person with the gripe who is more than happy to tell their story
  • the target is called by the radio station for interview to rebutt the claims – once again, when you are explaining you are losing!
  • the person with the gripe drops their legal process – it was never serious in the first place!

Question – what arresting officer in Rio would have taken the pic above of Pat Hickey of the Irish Olympic Council and tweet it? Why?

Mr and Mrs Everybody are shocked and horrified and they start tweeting about it, venting their anger and it goes on and on – the story gets bigger and bigger and then it grows arms and legs with further titbits being added as the hate momentum builds.

Maybe they did these terrible things but maybe they didn’t?

The next time we read these sensationalist headlines we should pause and carefully question everything we read before fully making up our minds about these “villains”.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Crisis Communications from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

 

The Culture Creep

December 29, 2015

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, CEO and founder of Zappos speaks about culture in a very clear way “Our belief is that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff – like delivering great customer service, or building a long-term enduring brand and business will happen naturally on its own

He believes in this so much that every year he produces a ‘culture book‘ for the company. This isn’t something that management drafts with rules and guidelines and inspirational words but it is something that all employees, partners and vendors are invited to feed into.

The submissions are not edited except for typos as it is intended to capture the culture of his special club.

He gets that the culture of the business is the driving force behind it but he also gets that you can’t dictate it – it is what it is and he uses the book to capture the pulse of the organisation in a clean way.

If you read Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness‘ you will learn the lengths the company goes to, to ensure that the right culture is ingrained in every employee from the minute they join and even some novel ideas to encourage people who “don’t fit” to quickly exit (they will pay you €2,000 to quit!) to ensure they don’t infect the business.

Culture creep

An article caught my attention recently in the Daily Telegraph about the recent VW scandal with the headline ‘Emissions rigging scandal was caused by the firm’s culture

VW Scandal

The chairman, Hans Dieter Potsch stated that “misconduct, flaws in our processes and an attitude that tolerated breaches of rules” had been allowed stretching back over a decade and ending with the company deliberately cheating pollution control tests on a massive scale.

He went on to state “This was not attributable to a once off error, but an unbroken chain of errors“.

The day an employee starts a new job they quickly learn the lay of the land – what is the place like, what does it take to progress, what things get you in trouble, what are the golden rules?

These important things aren’t what is printed in the ‘hand book‘ or on the company website but they are the living, breathing dynamics of everyday work life that you need to learn quickly if you want to survive and progress in your new job.

Ironically on the VW website they have a campaign called “Think Blue” . Read the blurb: “Everyone can help to treat our environment better. At Volkswagen we are not satisfied just to build cars with lower CO2 emissions. Instead we have taken a much more holistic attitude towards ecological sustainability: “Think Blue.

I couldn’t find anything on their website about the culture and values of the company.

What happened at VW ?

It seems that a culture creep happened whereby my boss thought it was ok to bend the rules because his boss thought it was ok because his boss said it was and this obviously crept up and down the organisation until a culture of honesty and integrity (corporate buzzwords you will regularly see as key values) had virtually disintegrated. This however didn’t stop the marketing machine with their ‘Think Blue‘ campaign!

This culture creep obviously took years to infect the company but it did have to start somewhere with people in senior positions for whatever reasons (pressure, bonuses, incompetence?) making really damaging decisions, which have possibly irrevocably wrecked the proud reputation of this fabulous company built gradually since the forties.

A strong culture is a core element of your brand and it needs to be nurtured and protected by every single person in your organisation. The branding, inspirational taglines, value statements, books and brochures should be expressions of this culture but they must be real and must genuinely reflect the ethos and ‘truth‘ that exists in the business.

Anything else will eventually be found out..

Greg Canty is a Managing Partner of Fuzion Marketing, PR and Design.

 Fuzion provide Crisis PR services and run Brand Workshops for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Building your Reputation Wall

December 28, 2015

awards wall

We were back at this point again with a client of ours.

We were being asked by the media if our client would do interviews as a result of some really great news that we had pushed out in a press release.

Of course we had advised our client that this would more than likely happen but she was adamant that she did not want to do newspaper and radio interviews “I hate to be seen as blowing my own trumpet” and “won’t the media be quick enough to cut the legs from you when things go wrong?“.

These were really ‘hard set‘ beliefs that she had and there was no shifting them. As her communications advisers we had to push her and explain that doing these interviews would be great for the business and would help to achieve the objectives that they had set for us.

Her last comment really struck a chord with me – “Won’t the media be quick enough to cut the legs from you when things go wrong?”

To be honest when things go wrong everyone will question what happened and this is the general public and the media. Mostly you can’t predict when these things happen but sometimes you can. In either case you should be prepared by having carefully built up your reputation wall.

Reputation Wall

Imagine all of the good things that you and your organisation does – these things will help to start building a “reputation wall” for you.

Great products, excellent customer service, paying your suppliers on time, being courteous in business, being a responsible corporate citizen, looking after your team and doing charitable work are all fantastic things that help to build that reputation wall with your various stakeholders.

They are a great company” is what you want people saying about you.

PR can help to accelerate your good news and with the help of some careful planning this reputation wall will be built even higher by reaching a much wider audience through the media and other communications channels such as social media.

Your reputation wall will hep you win business, get loans, get credit, get planning permission, get landlords wanting you as their tenant, attract great staff but this isn’t the only time it will help you.

In the event that something does go wrong (and it often does unless you are extremely lucky) your organisation will be seen as one that should be believed and trusted and as a result you will be forgiven for whatever has gone wrong. The higher and stronger your wall is the more it will protect you.

I explained all of this to my client and thankfully she did listen to me and agreed to do one of the radio interviews. I smiled as I listened to her doing her fantastic company proud.

How is your reputation wall?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR who offer PR and Crisis PR services in Ireland from our offices in Dublin and Cork

The difference between Leadership and a “Spokesperson said”

December 8, 2015

Councillor Joe Queenan

Last night Fianna Fail issued a statement after the resignation of disgraced Councillor Joe Queenan (don’t you love the camera hidden in the box of tissues!)

The statement was as expected:

Following the Primetime Investigates Standards in Public Office programme, a Spokesperson for Fianna Fáil commented, “Tonight the Party has accepted the resignation of Cllr Joe Queenan. Some of the behaviour displayed in tonight’s programme was shocking and completely unacceptable. The instances where there appear to be clear breaches of the law need to be fully investigated by the Gardaí and prosecutions brought where appropriate.”

Click to view the full Fianna Fail Joe Quennan statement.

It was an appropriate statement and it was very important that Fianna Fail issued it quickly but I do have a big question – why a Spokesperson?

Why do organisations like this choose to go this anonymous, nothing ‘spokesperson‘ route instead of grabbing the opportunity and demonstrating clear leadership, authority and direction?

We don’t want a ‘Spokesperson‘!!

Instead we want a leader, someone who speaks out, someone who is willing to take responsibility and put their name behind the statement and show clearly what is expected of their organisation.

We want a person who will take the interviews, face the music and show some conviction.

Next time you are writing a press release try to avoid the bland, cop out of the “Spokesperson said” if you want to show leadership and authority and you want people to take you more seriously.

Well done to the Primetime Investigates team at RTE!

Greg Canty 

Fuzion PR Services – Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

 

Cork Merger – A poor process has us all scrapping

September 19, 2015

Free-State

When we worked on the Cork Marketing Project I was so proud and excited that all of the stakeholders were working so well together and that we made great progress towards our collective goal of attracting people and investment to Cork.

So many people told me this level of co-operation just wouldn’t happen in Cork and I genuinely didn’t believe them – I had faith!

Now I am deeply saddened to read in The Irish Examiner this morning about all of the opposing views and in particular today the bitter war of words between the Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association as well as local politicians.

The Cork Chamber are “all for the merger” quoting the benefits of greater capacity and a unified voice and the Cork Business Association are against it declaring that you cannot ignore the strong advice that came through in the minority report by the two UCC members who were on the committee charged with making the recommendations in the first place!

Guys …this is really lousy for Cork!

I have my own strong opinions about what should be done but at this stage I don’t really care about my opinions or anyone else’s because I feel the process which was adopted with such monumental consequences for so many of us Corkonians was not fit for the huge purpose that it was intended for.

I have gone out of my way this week to find out more by talking to many of the people involved and everyone has deep rooted opinions, lots of suspicions and theories, very opposing views and I am definitely not seeing anything in place that will sort out this awful situation in the near future.

Personally I can’t believe the insubstantial make up of the CLRG committee (it lacks sufficient expertise), the research undertaken can be challenged too easily (I don’t believe the committee had sufficient time or resources to do this properly), there seems to have been very little ‘real‘ consultation and I can see issues with the recommendations as I understand them (Read my blog post – Cork Merger Drama).

Most significantly the minority report prepared by Prof Keogh and Dr. Theresa Reidy (effectively 50% of the committee excluding the Chairman) totally undermines the whole process and cannot be ignored. I believe this was sufficient grounds for not publishing the recommendations until their concerns were properly dealt with.

Even worse my understanding is that there is no mechanism in place to take the recommendations from the report (maybe there is huge merit in many of them?) and evaluate them robustly by people with the appropriate expertise, assessing the benefits and potential downfalls of each. In particular this assessment must deal with all of the valid concerns and issues raised by the various stakeholders in Cork who for many years have been representing our many and varied interests.

Their opinions, experience and expertise are too valuable to ignore.

If the process was robust with all aspects and arguments considered and with all parties brought along then we might start to get some understanding and agreement and only then, move positively into the future.

The last aspect is dealing with those directly affected, namely the many employees in Cork City and County Councils who also deserve a very robust process, which they can understand and believe in.

I don’t think for one moment that this will be all plain sailing or that we will end up with agreement on all sides but as with any change programme it should at least be both transparent and robust and it must bring people along carefully.

Hand Grenade

To summarise what has happened is that a poorly thought out grenade has been thrown into Cork by the Minister and his team, the pin has been removed far too quickly and we are the ones who will suffer as a result.

This process has already done huge damage to Cork and it has the potential to do even more if corrective action is not taken quickly.

My request to all of us including our Cork Politicians and our representative organisations is:

For the love of Cork can we please stop squabbling and instead focus on reversing this awful process with something robust that we can all believe in and one that will let us together move powerfully into the future”

We can’t afford to get left behind ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

Dunnes Stores – Building your Reputation

April 2, 2015

Dunnes Stores Strike

It was a strange thing – I heard news of the Dunnes Stores strike first thing this morning on Newstalk and immediately without hearing any of the detail I was on the side of the workers.

I wondered why did I think that automatically?

The truth is I never hear any good things about the company.

I don’t hear about charities they support, I don’t hear about a focus on Irish products,  I don’t hear about how they work closely with suppliers, I don’t see them being helpful on social media, I don’t hear about how much they contribute to the Irish economy and I don’t hear about new jobs that have created.

Instead I remember the strikes of old and the trouble and controversy that the company has had down through the years.

This doesn’t mean for a second that they do none of these things – it just means I don’t know about the good things they do and as a result when I hear a negative about them I tend to believe it.

When we use the words ‘building your reputation‘ it is a powerful analogy because your reputation is something that is built over time.

It is a culmination of all of the things you do; how you look after suppliers, your team and most importantly your customers. It also includes how you interact with the general community – while we are all in business to make a profit it is vital that we respect our environment and those around us and genuinely try to be a good, responsible corporate citizen.

Besides doing good it is vital that this is communicated clearly and effectively so that people understand that this is a business that genuinely cares about something more than just making money.

When an ill wind blows it is vital that your reputation has been built carefully and robustly so that it can withstand it easily and that you will have the support of your customers, investors, the media and the general public in these circumstances.

There is a strike at Dunnes

If a good job was done here our first thought when we hear this should be “They are a great company who are really responsible and fair – there must be two sides to that story

Build your reputation … it will protect you

Greg Canty

Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland offer a full Crisis PR Service. Deirdre Waldron, (Partner) heads up the Crisis PR team, which includes former journalists, media training and social media expertise.

 

 

 

Rocky Balboa and Irish Water

November 23, 2014

Rocky Balboa making a comeback

We were up against the ropes after taking a fierce pummelling.

It felt like there was no mercy as blow after blow landed and we were dizzy, weak and confused, nearly ready to give up and the heavy punches kept landing. Please stop ..

USC tax, narrowing of tax bands, disposable income crumbling, banks seizing up on lending and pressurising without mercy, NAMA just as merciless and then we had the property tax. Our trusted charities seemed to be an incredible gravy train with political appointments and despicable salaries with zero accountability.

Just as a glimmer of sunshine started to appear out through our swollen eyes a Kango hammer was digging outside our doors installing meters to measure how much water we were using so we could be charged at whatever rate they decided – no one knew.

This was very different, this was outside my front door and all of a sudden you touched a raw nerve. The installer cut up the footpath and never repaired it and when we called him he was very very smart saying it was always like that and he could prove it because he had a picture from Google Earth ..I’ll give him Google Earth where the sun doesn’t shine!

If there was a leak they would fix it but after that it was my problem, if we didn’t pay our water would be restricted to a trickle, if we didn’t register there would be fines, no one knew how much the water would cost but we did know there were bonuses for staff (for what?!!), they wanted our PPS numbers and the bunch running the fiasco called Irish Water were made up largely of political and very unsuitable and incompetent appointees.

Blow after blow each punch hammered us.

Rocky

They crunched down hard on that raw nerve without mercy and we could feel that anger rising. Even though we were totally exhausted, beaten to a pulp, eyes nearly shut and ready to fall down an inner strength rose from deep inside us and we managed to stand up and lift our tired arms and throw a punch.

To our surprise it connected …bang.

All of a sudden he was not so solid on his feet and we felt some of his superiority and power draining from him and shifting into our arms and legs… we were not beaten.

We thew another punch and another and each of them landed…bang, smack and he was suddenly reeling, dizzy against the ropes.

Will we show him the same degree of mercy that he showed us? Bang ..didn’t think so.

The government are now reeling after the fiasco of Irish Water, taking blow after blow. The rules of the game are changing by the day; the charges are being reduced, we won’t have to give PPS numbers, no one’s water will be reduced to a trickle and anyone who can’t afford it will not be pursued and then we have the apologies..

“I didn’t mean that” “That was a mistake” “We handled it badly”.

Up against the ropes and waiting for the knockout blow the government is trying everything to escape the wave of punches but they keep coming despite all attempts to call an end to this brutal fight.

When we were up against the ropes there was very little mercy and those painful lessons aren’t easily forgotten. So before you start to recover and find your feet again …BANG.

These water protests won’t stop anytime soon regardless of what changes are made.

The activists know they have the government on the ropes and they won’t let up.

While its easy for us to join in as we have all felt those heavy blows, its really important that we are sure who these activists are and make sure that we don’t get a new fighter in the ring who is bigger, uglier, meaner and even more merciless than the one we feel we are fighting right now.

Is it time to step out of the ring? 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Crisis, What Crisis?

April 18, 2014

Supertramp - Crisis, What Crisis?

Little did I know that in 1977 when I was listening to ground breaking music with our very cool Spanish summer student that years later some of this would continue to make an impact.

I was just 12 years of age and I was listening to music by fabulous bands and artists such as ELO, Lou Reed, Supertramp and Bob Dylan.

That summer we listened to some incredible albums including Face the Music (ELO), Even in the Quietest Moments (Supertramp), Street Hassle (Lou Reed) and one that always stuck in my mind was Crisis, What Crisis? by Supertramp.

I loved the name of the album, the cover was really cool and the music lived up to the promise.

My passion for music kicked off that summer so much so that I ended up opening my own music stores (I reckon I made a lot of landlords wealthy!) in my twenties and now we find ourselves often operating in the Crisis business.

Crisis PR

Much of our normal PR work is planned out in advance with our clients having clear communication objectives – its our job to secure media coverage to achieve these objectives.

With Crisis PR work you can get a call on a Sunday, which requires you to drop everything that you are doing and jump into action for an organisation that requires immediate help to deal with a situation. These situations are always different, they require clever thinking on your feet and inevitably they are very fluid, often changing by the minute.

Sometimes an organisation has the benefit of some advance warning where they have prior knowledge of something that could happen, which they know may require careful handling with the media and other stakeholders.

Over the last number of years this seems to have been an area of our business, which has grown and grown. We have recruited deliberately to give a great service in this area as our team now includes ex-journalists, individuals with political communication experience, individuals who provide media training and others with significant TV experience.

We also find that our expertise in social media is vital in a crisis situation as you can track issues, mentions and sentiment about the issue. This helps greatly with our media communications as you can gauge the temperature of an issue and use this information to often correct misunderstandings.

Crisis Planning

Just like you take out an insurance policy to protect against risk it is a really good idea to have a plan in place to prepare your organisation for a crisis situation.

No organisation can afford to hide in a crisis as it has the potential to damage relationships with clients and stakeholders, wreak havoc with an organisation’s reputation, seriously effect revenue and in some cases lead to closure. Social media in particular can accelerate the speed and damage from a crisis situation.

We work with our clients in advance of any potential crisis, planning such things as:-

  • Reactive Statements
  • Preparing spokespeople, including Media Training
  • Monitoring traditional and online media
  • Devising a plan that will be put into place should a potential crisis become a reality
  • Developing an Internal Communications Strategy to include communications to relevant stakeholders
  • Crisis Social Media Strategy

Hopefully you will never need our Crisis PR services but if that ever happens you know we are ready…

Greg Canty

Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland offer a full Crisis PR Service. Deirdre Waldron, (Partner) heads up the Crisis PR team, which includes former journalists, media training and social media expertise.