Posts Tagged ‘PR crisis management’

My choice, My message, My PR

January 10th, 2011

Just how much can a re-branding go to improving public perception?  Get your notebook out as we’re going to school…

An issue really heating up in Congress is the debate over for-profit colleges.  Industry regulations were loosened under the Bush administration, and enrollment soared.  Unfortunately, many graduating students got saddled with huge debts so the Obama administration proposed “Gainful Employment” regulations to address this problem.  Both for-profit colleges and investors see these regulations as a threat, as might be inferred from falling stock prices.

From the PR standpoint, the label “for-profit college” invites scrutiny; certainly these organizations are aware of that.  So they coined “career college to focus on the service they provide, i.e., educating professionals.  We can see these themes on the University of Phoenix website, and in their op-ed and on the APSCU website.  And, career colleges rightly associated themselves with more tangible outcomes a long time ago, such as graduating IT and healthcare professionals.

But just like they changed from the Career College Association to the APSCU, their brand must continue to evolve.  For example, why aren’t their graduates in the arts emphasized more, or those in green jobs?  Smart brand evolution would stress that a career college fulfills not just one need but many needs.  Quick op-eds won’t cut it when facing PR quicksand like this.  And, while the APSCU website gives many examples of success stories, it has too much buzz-word infused information.

Re-branding is not an uncommon thing and your organization shouldn’t be afraid to take a few risks.  Take Starbucks for instance.  Their logo offers a nice visual of how gradual brand evolution can benefit a company.  Lesson: embrace change.  And if you’re still afraid that change might ruin your brand, remember one thing – there’s nothing like a return to a classic.

Tale of the Tiger, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hire Public Relations Crisis Management

November 28th, 2009

In a crisis situation, clients with high visibility often are lost on the best way to interact with their crisis counselor.  In the crisis management industry, what role does the public relations specialist play when helping a client?

Take this weekend’s Tiger Woods story – or debacle, depending on who you ask.  We can thank the era of the rapidly evolving media platform for broadcasting a torrent of details in the past 24 hours.  The narrative already involves the world’s best golfer, a supermodel, possibly a mistress, rumors of prescription medication, a car crash, the parties avoiding police investigators, and who knows what else.

Here’s how smart PR crisis management should approach this media lightning rod:

First, when it comes to crisis communications, a competent public relations firm must adopt strict confidentiality protocols similar to those of a lawyer or physician.   The public relations industry doesn’t have a licensing system like law or medicine (though perhaps it should!), but a letter of engagement or contract for services must include non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) principles.  As with these other professional services, confidentiality encourages frank discussion about the client’s problems, which allows the publicist to generate creative, thorough solutions.

Second, the publicist should recommend crisis communication steps only when they believe the client has provided all the facts.  That way the first public response – which is likely the one most media will cover immediately – can address all pertinent details and define the terms of the debate before any outspoken commentator or enemy does.  You can take control of the story and then begin driving the narrative the way you want it to go.

Third, any crisis communication plan must NEVER, ever say “no comment.”  The veritable confession of guilt before the media’s eyes, “no comment” begs reporters, pundits, bloggers and anyone else to speculate on what really happened instead of you telling people the actual facts (see the second point above).

Crisis management 101 rightfully instructs the embattled person to run straight into the crisis so you can wrestle it to the ground.  Each crisis situation is unique in its own details, but like the laws of physics, the fundamentals remain constant.  It’s a long weekend, so Tiger’s publicists still have the chance to steer the narrative favorably to their client before everyone beats their Thanksgiving hangover and gets back to the grind Monday morning.  The clock is ticking…