Posts Tagged ‘Crisis PR’

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 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Defamation and your reputation

August 8, 2015

Defamation

This week we had to deal with a potential defamation scenario for a client because of some of their online activity.

In this case they had received a solicitors letter accusing them of defamation because of something that they had posted in a personal blog post. This whole area is very interesting because it deals with the most valuable of assets,”your reputation” and it also had the element of online, which makes it even more intriguing.

Your Reputation

Your good reputation is one of the most precious assets that you have and it is in your interest to protect it at all costs. A good reputation is built up over time and it comes about from how you conduct all aspects of your business including the delivery of your products and services, how you treat your customers, your suppliers and your team and how you interact with the general public.

A good reputation will win you business, it will attract customers who will want to do business with you and it will give suppliers, banks, investors and landlords that necessary trust so they are happy to deal with you. If something does go wrong, as things often do then a good reputation will protect you because people will know that you are to be trusted and that whatever has happened you will sort it out.

A lot of the work we do with clients can be described as reputation management. We work hard to ensure that all the great things that our clients do are publicised and if potentially damaging incidents occur then we make sure that these situations are carefully managed so that any damage is limited.

A reputation often takes many years to build, but this can be destroyed easily in just moments by circumstances.

Defamation

Because your reputation is such a precious asset it is only right that their is legal protection available to you, should anyone ever defame you.

We have found that defamation can be quite a misunderstood term as many feel that it applies whenever someone ‘says something bad about you‘  which is certainly not the case.

A few elements must normally be in place for something to be deemed as ‘defamation’:

Precise information – You must know exactly what has been said or publicised about you and be able to demonstrate this.

Clearly identified – The parties claiming to be defamed must be clearly identified in the offending publication.

False statements – It can only be deemed as defamation if what has been said is largely untrue. You might not like what is being said about you but if it is true this is not defamation!

Publication – It is only deemed as defamation if the publication of the remarks was relatively wide. Being overheard by a few people would not be enough.

Defamation

Online dimension

The online environment makes this whole area even more complicated.

Does a post on a blog or on someone’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn carry as much weight as an article in a newspaper, some other publication or a comment on radio or TV? If I have 6,000 followers on twitter and someone else has 100 is a false statement by me a bigger misdemeanour?

It’s all a question of distribution and how many people may have seen or heard the false statements and then someone has the tricky job of assessing how much potential damage has been done by the false statement.

Another tricky dimension with the online environment is that if others make defamatory comments about someone on your ‘platform’ (blog/discussion board) then you could be liable as you did not remove the offending posts.

Defamation is a notoriously difficult area of law so even when all the elements are in place anyone considering a case in this area must have deep pockets and lots of time on their hands before considering legal action. (Check out some of the cases that have been tried in Ireland).

Our client

With the scenario that we had to deal with this week none of the critical elements were in place so our client had nothing to worry about and certainly nothing that would damage their own reputation – in fact it was quite the opposite.

In this case one of the people involved had written a blog post about the personal impact of an incident whereby they had been seriously wronged. They never once mentioned who the offending party were in their post and they were 100% truthful in what they had said.

Ironically the offending party ‘recognised’ themselves in the post and cried ‘foul’ and immediately ran to their solicitors who were happy to claim defamation, which it clearly was not. In this case the solicitor should have known better than to make such an incorrect and unprofessional accusation – is this a defamatory comment?

I’m always amused to see how it’s nearly always the ‘offenders’ who get most vigorous about protecting their rights!

Your good reputation is hard earned and it is a precious asset of huge value to your business. The best advice is to manage your reputation carefully so no one ever has a reason to say something bad about you.

If someone is making false, damaging accusations about you then you do have a legal mechanism but make sure that all the right elements are in place before going down this potentially costly and distracting road.

Your good reputation is everything.

Greg Canty 

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

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.

 

 

 

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.

Lance, Flawed hero and the Power of “Sorry”

January 20, 2013

Lance ArmstrongI’m sorry for what I have done” said Lance as he glanced across at Oprah with those steely eyes.

It was the most fascinating interview and you may not have have liked what was he was saying but he did come across as being honest..even to the point of admitting that he was and probably still is a “jerk“.

It’s hard to know how to feel about the whole episode – I had a big discussion with my son Brendan, about the whole thing.

He totally disagrees with me!

I’ve got a simple view of Lance Armstrong ..

The Sportsman

I reckon anyone who is at the very top of their game must be extremely driven and obsessive about what they do ..it could be soccer (Roy Keane, a typical example), ballet, politics, writing, anything. If you are not obsessive you just won’t be at the very top.

Lance Armstrong who admitted he operated a  “Win at all Costs” mentality rose to the pinnacle of a sport that has been riddled with drugs and illegal practices for as long as I can remember.

Did the authorities that run professional cycling allow an environment and culture that made these illegal practices possible?

My simple question here is – did Lance practice harder and do drugs better and more effectively than all of the other cyclists? 

The Cancer Survivor

Lance Armstrong - Cancer SurvivorHe beat the odds against cancer and once again he became a winner.

He even managed to commercialise his story and the cancer journey by capturing it in books that inspired people all over the world with his “don’t give up, win” mentality.

More than once I have heard people quote his book as helping them through tough and very dark times (just last week, Chris Donoghue, Newstalk presenter)

The Charity

Livestrong FoundationUsing the power of his iconic status he formed the Livestrong Foundation charity raising money for cancer research and once again inspiring sick people the world over with his drive and inspiration.

The Cheat, the Liar and the Betrayal

We all know at this stage how much he cheated (it’s not right, but were they all at it?) and we know what a great and convincing liar (over and over he did this) he is.

The very worst of all was how he betrayed close friends, colleagues and team mates and in many cases tried to destroy them professionally and personally to protect the huge Lance Armstrong brand that he had built. He even went as far as suing people who were telling the truth just to protect himself.

This part is truly unforgivable and despicable – I really don’t know how anyone could do this.

Maybe the brand was so big and invincible that no one could handle it? Could he handle it?

Lance Armstrong is an incredibly driven individual who scaled huge heights, achieved incredible feats and managed to do a lot of good but he is incredibly flawed and is guilty of doing some terrible things.

The Power of Sorry

Lance Armstrong & Oprah

I’m Sorry …

The great thing about having a public profile (the Sean Quinn interview with Vincent Browne comes to mind) is that you will always have an audience for “sorry” – in Lance’s case he was able to have the largest possible audience with Oprah.

He said “sorry” and it gave him an opportunity to connect with a huge audience. I watched it and I did empathise with him.

Not everyone will forgive him but many will …some other viewers might just soften their attitude towards him a little.

There is huge power in the word “sorry” – always use it..

Lance Armstrong, the flawed hero – have we seen the last of him? I doubt it!

Sorry!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion with offer Crisis PR services for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork.

Opportunities in a Crisis?

March 26, 2011
Crisis PR - A deck of cards

Crisis PR - Manage the situation

Hopefully you will successfully manage to steer yourself away from any Crisis situation for you or your business.

However, if you are misfortunate and some Crisis situation occurs that is going to lead to quite negative publicity then we would recommend that you approach it with a really positive frame of mind – I know, this seems unusual and under the circumstances it may seem impossible to do, but ..

You must manage your reputation at all times, even in a crisis – this is Crisis PR

Our positive Crisis PR approach in these situations is to:

1. Accept that what has happened has happened – you probably can’t change this but you can change what you do and how you behave from here on in. This will influence how people will view you and the situation.

2. Get all the facts, 100% with as much clarity as possible – capture this in writing and share it with everyone involved.

3. Don’t ignore the media – get someone (a PR company is normally used to doing this) to field all calls, taking their details and assuring them that you will get back to them with a statement. “No comment” is a wasted opportunity to give your side of the story.

Your voice and your message are so important.

4. Concentrate on the message – with someone else fielding your calls you can concentrate on getting your message right. We would advise doing this with the assistance of an outside source who can bring objectivity to the issue – a PR company used to dealing with the media and crisis situations would be recommended.

5. Be honest – the very worst thing is to get caught out with misinformation. Be sure of every thing you are saying. If unsure of anything don’t comment on it until you are sure. If you get caught out all credibility is lost.

6. Written statement – once you have your message agreed capture this in a written statement, which can be issued to press. With a written statement you are totally limiting the chance of being misinterpreted.

7. Don’t talk to press – When we say this we mean at least not until you are ready to. In a “crisis” situation people can be very upset and may be unable to actually “talk”. Written statements should suffice until you are ready to talk. When you are ready to talk be clear about your key messages, write them down and rehearse them. A little role play beforehand is a good idea and will help in getting this right and avoiding little traps.

8. The Press want a story, help to write it – even in a crisis you can leverage the situation and include positive messages and initiatives about you and your business. The crisis may be awful but when there is an appetite for a story we would advise taking this opportunity and using it to “sell” some positives. This could include changes that are being implemented as a result of the crisis or even previous success stories or investments that the business has made. Paint as positive a picture as possible. The media are competing for stories and will be delighted to get a different angle on the situation – this could be a positive angle.

9. The story has a shelf life – all stories have a shelf life and will eventually be replaced by other stories. Recognise this shelf life and use this period to include those positive initiatives and actions in your statements. When the shelf life has expired it may be impossible to communicate the positives – the media will have lost interest and your opportunity could be gone.

10. Measure the temperature – during the immediate post crisis period carefully measure the press coverage about the crisis and also use online tools to capture what is being said by people generally. Gauging the temperature correctly can influence the content and timing of statements and positively contribute to the success of your “Crisis PR” campaign.

11. The Legal advice – The legal guys have their job to do and we have ours. By all means the two need to work closely together but this can only happen with a practical understanding of each others objectives.

Some of the legal guys will advise “no comment” – this could be safe legal advice but not good business or good reputation advice – know and understand the difference.

All press is good press? – we wouldn’t go along with that idea but we do advise staying calm, dealing with a crisis positively and making the very most out of a bad situation.

A vital step is to bring in outside professional help to assist with this process as early as possible.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion