When a damning news story appears about a major company, chances are other big players are involved. In crisis PR, a fundamental element is knowing who your client’s business partners are, and where their business interests lie – because that’s often where the real action is.
Dealbook has quite a takedown that summarizes how (perhaps even why) so many stakeholders blanked on Groupon’s rather ambitious accounting behind its planned IPO. Groupon certainly is no stranger to negative publicity around its desire to go public; that’s clearly catalogued by numerous editorials and news pieces that skewer CEO Andrew Mason’s borderline contemptuous views of banking and financial industry professionals.
But from the PR perspective, the additional lesson here is for companies behind the IPO curtain, namely Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse. The Dealbook article points a heavy finger at these firms for failing to alert investors as to Groupon’s suspect IPO accounting. What that means is each firm needs its own crisis management strategy that anticipates this kind of heat, and has ready messaging to address these claims. Not a single one of these firms’ websites has a statement that pushes back on the Dealbook article.
Know what that means, at least in crisis public relations? The reader is left with the impression that all the negative assertions are basically facts. The opportunity to rebut these views is fleeting, and left unchallenged, this only encourages the growing global resentment toward the investment banking industry.