There is a massive difference between a piece of dramatic news hitting that directly affects your company, in which case it is certainly compelled to respond in a timely and thoughtful manner; and a piece of dramatic new that doesn’t affect your company, in which case conventional wisdom says to keep your mouth shut and focus on the X’s and O’s, the 1’s and 0’s, the debits and credits.
Given Charleston is a foodie town I wanted to boil down the Chipotle saga missteps into a few easy lessons for our restaurant community should this type of event happen in their kitchens.
We’re not shy about offering our opinions on social media faux pas here, and I was asked later about my PR perspective on corporate social media, gaffes, apologies, etc., so I thought I’d condense my long ramble (forgive me Allison) here to close out 2015:
The gruesome journalism axiom, “If it bleeds, it leads.” has played out in Charleston and across the nation this week after the senseless shooting death of Walter Scott by a local police officer.
Let me be clear: It’s wrong that a human being was shot in the back, dead. It doesn’t matter who shot him or why. It’s unjustifiable. It’s. Just. Wrong.
But there is another thing almost as bad: How desensitized our society has become to violence as a whole, and how desperate our media have become to exploit tragic events like this to gain readers, viewers and notoriety for themselves.
For the media, having a good rep is paramount. No one wants to deal with a liar or someone who will bend the truth just for a story. The absolute best reporters are those who develop a mutual and professional respect and trust with the people who provide them with the information they need. Most reporters follow a standard of ethics and values. Some, sadly, do not.
If Sheriff DeWitt had been my client, “Simply put,” I would have told him, “Your days of effectively leading law enforcement in this county are over – whether you choose to admit it or not. The only thing up for debate now is your legacy. Are you going to be remembered as a stand-up guy? Or an out-of-touch, power-hungry relic from the Boss Hogg days?”
The Sony data breaches and recent pseudo-blackmailing of the company have highlighted cybersecurity and redefined corporate stupidity. Amidst the still-clearing smoke, we wanted to offer businesses some PR recommendations moving forward: Privacy – Expect none. Ever. Years ago one of my Pentagon bosses advised us to never put anything in an email we wouldn’t want showing up on the front page of the New York Times – or in a divorce courtroom.
The quick response by the CEO was smart, necessary and fact-filled. The airline’s employees both needed and deserved to know the facts surrounding the disposition of the infected passenger, how the issue was handled, the response timeline and what the company is doing to safeguard its employees. The memo addressed those concerns and filled the information vacuum with facts. A good thing for certain. But reading the memo, you can’t help but think it was written and rewritten by Frontier’s public relations and legal team. And that’s where I have some issues.