Swedish Oat milk brand, Oatly, faced consumer backlash with widespread calls to boycott the brand, following a $200m investment from the Blackstone Investment Group - a company accused of contributing to Amazon deforestation.Continue reading "Lessons from an ‘unwinnable’ crisis"
The Chairman of Beattie Communications, Gordon Beattie, resigned last week for comments he made in a LinkedIn post. You can see the post for yourself below.
His only defence was that his post was made with “the best of intent”. Others have called his comments insensitive, racist, homophobic, utterly unacceptable, and abhorrent. I don’t disagree with any of these descriptions.
The nature of the comments is one thing.
The language he used is offensive, outdated, and demonstrates how far removed this ‘PR juggernaut’ (as described in the media) is from the society in which we live today. The recent resignation of FA Chairman Greg Clarke for using similarly inappropriate language shows that Beattie’s ‘error’ is not an isolated incident.
But what this highlights is how even the most senior people in a business require external support; a second pair of eyes from someone outside the organisation provides the objective sense-check that can stop these incidents from happening, especially when communicating on such a sensitive issue. After all, it’s often difficult for staff to say no to senior figures in the business.
Beattie’s post brings to the fore another major issue in the industry – using provocation to gain likes, higher reach, and attention. Social networks are often fuelled by dissent, disagreement, and polarisation. Unfortunately, being provocative ‘works’ if all you want to do is reach a wider audience.
But it’s lazy practice and a cheap trick. It’s for people who have run out of ideas. It can be damaging, dangerous, and as Gordon Beattie is realising, can destroy reputations in an instant. He was clearly trying to be ‘clever’, but the provocative approach was all wrong. Instead of shining a light on an important issue, his lack of understanding of the platform, the nuance of messaging and the society in which we live, has been his undoing.
Featured Image by Steve Johnson
As COVID-19 silently crept onto our shores you may have been in regular crisis meetings as the virus’ huge impact took hold. Now, you may well be moving from that heightened crisis state to living with the new “normal”, whatever that looks like for your organisation.
As we all bed into week 5 of the lockdown we thought we’d share some insights on how to adapt from crisis to business-as-usual with some suggested next steps and evidence from our client work.
As TV news anchors around the world set up studios in their homes with teleprompters, specialist lighting, makeup and HD broadcast cameras; interviewees must also up their game. "News" needs experts, spokespeople and human stories more than ever and the best people you will see and hear, the ones who get invited back, have received media & presentation training – even if they are speaking from a laptop in their living room. Continue reading “Media & Presentation Training 2.0”
I have seen some brilliant emails and posts in the last few days – from my local Indian restaurant, Haweli, to Sainsbury’s, to other small business owners like me. It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small; clear, regular and relevant communications are critical.
As we all adjust to the new “normal” personally and “business as usual” professionally, it occurred to me that there are some really simple tips for communicating in a crisis.
“Those difficult situations, they don’t frighten me… never waste a good crisis. When you have a crisis, then you have the fantastic platform for change”.
The refreshing perspective of Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury in the Sunday Times, provides a timely excuse to consider the good that comes out of the bad, for crisis comms professionals.
Prince Andrew would have done well to follow the Green Cross Code as he stepped into the path of the oncoming Newsnight interview. There has since been much scrutiny of the Royal’s press advisors and why they failed to follow the basics when it comes to media handling in a global reputational storm.
Taking time to stop, look and listen to external communications advisors during a crisis is critical to long term reputation. Like a friendly Green Man, people like us, reiterate life outside the crisis bubble and wider public perception both in the moment and the hours, days and weeks to follow.
Most people over 30, remember the well-known washing powder ad, which challenged unsuspecting mums to a live clothes wash, to see whether the product delivered its ‘whiter than whites’ promise. This was a filmed doorstep where everyone was in on the gag. Viewers understood it was an advert, just as the at-home victim knew their kitchen would appear on national TV. Continue reading “Doing the doorstep challenge – can you win when cameras arrive unannounced?”
We all know the feeling.
Your phone pings, then again… and again… something has happened.
Twitter is “blowing up” says the voice on the other end of the line. Five minutes later; “it’s all over Facebook”. The on-call Press Officer rings next; local media want a response to the hundreds of comments on Twitter.
So, what’s your next move?
If you’re asking this question now, it’s too late.
When I first joined Facebook I trusted the platform and genuinely thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was so interactive, I could store and share photos of my young kids with friends (yes, I was that parent) and catch up on what everyone was up to from the comfort of my then small London flat. A few years later it seemed to be THE place to get breaking news which was always relevant to what I was interested in, thank you algorithms.
Over the last 10 years though that trust has been eroded. Continue reading “Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.”
Crisis comms support – no longer just for the big boys
Thanks to new digital marketing techniques, it’s possible for SMEs to compete with global organisations when promoting their business. With a great creative idea and some smart execution, you can reach huge numbers of your target audience without needing any agency support whatsoever. Digital marketing agencies know this and have made their service packages more affordable and flexible as a result.
There is one area of communications where it’s not recommended to go ‘DIY’ however: crisis communications. And with many corporate communications specialists insisting upon pricey retainers to manage a business’s reputation, SMEs are locked out of access to that support. Continue reading “Crisis communications support for SMEs”
The truth is that no one really knows what goes on inside an organisation during a crisis, apart from the people managing it. There are often multiple business objectives which reach far beyond being featured on the programme. Continue reading “Kudos to my ex colleagues at BBC Watchdog”
Regardless of its size or influence, every business needs to establish and maintain a good reputation for the sake of its customers, employees and future existence. But if global superbrand Facebook struggles to manage it, what hope is there for smaller companies who don’t have millions to spend on corporate communications support and media training? Follow this starter guide to reputation management and a million pound budget won’t be necessary.
Continue reading “Reputation management – where any business (big or small) should start from”
If you look at the risks to your business (via a risk audit) you’ll discover potential threats lie within your workforce, your suppliers, your processes, your equipment and perhaps even your premises. Identifying those threats and planning how to handle them is a huge step forward in managing your corporate reputation.
But what about the threats that lie outside your business? What happens when companies or personalities you’re affiliated to suffer a fall from grace? Do nothing and it looks like you don’t care or worse, condone their bad behaviour. Act and you may risk further damage. So how do you protect your business and respond in the right way? Continue reading “Caught in the crossfire? Is a bad brand association risking your reputation?”
Yesterday, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies made a statement. An important statement for any of the 500 or so people who had visited the restaurant and pub in Salisbury where trace amounts of the substance used to poison ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found.
Now I don’t live in Salisbury. But my gut feeling, if I did, is that any advice about possible nerve agent contamination is probably worth listening to.