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Table of contents

06 EDITOR’S LETTER 09 QUOTES Brand crisis quotes from experts 10 BRANDTOP Brand crisis in 2017 12 SPORTS Brand crisis in sports




14 DIGITAL Responding to crises: The best way to look after your brand 16 DIGITAL How to use social media to survive a brand crisis 18 COVER Crisis Ready 26 ACADEMIC Paradigms of public relations and crisis communication



28 REPUTATION What to do when things go wrong: protecting the brand 36 BRAND GADGETS 37 EVENTS 38 PROFILE James Lukaszewski







hen we talk about the relationship between brands and clients , we are talking about one of the most complex challenges from the relational perspective. We can say that we have a relationship when consumers and brands creates a positive connection assuming a commitment each other. To establish a good relationship with the consumer is very important to work in some key points: • Good communication • Active listening • Respect • Trust • Commitment When brands start to avoid some of the previous key points is when the crisis begins. Let’s talk about the married relationship, when you do not have a good communication with your partner, when you lose the respect and trust you can say that your married is in crisis and sometimes divorce is the solution. With brands and consumers is the same, the crisis is always coming, either by mistake of the brands themselves or by a natural and unexpected event. As in

life, problems can be faced in many ways, the important thing is how we are going to deal with the crisis, if we are going to take advantage of these crises to enhance the brand or if like the marriage we are going to end with divorce and we are going to lose our consumers. All brands should be prepared to face a situation that puts their reputation at risk and that is the reason why in this issue we will help professionals to be prepared for the crisis. We talked with Melissa Agnes, leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection who shares her experience in the topic in a great interview that is going to help to be ready for crisis. Also, we have the participation of different experts around the world, sharing their knowledge to help brands to understand better the crisis and how to deal with it. Finally, is very important to remember that the most important in crisis time is transparency and the truth. In the face of a crisis, we must always remain calm and apply common sense while maintaining our brand identity and personality. I am pretty sure that the content of this new issue is going to help you with your brands.

LUIS FERNANDO VERGARA CEO Branders Magazine @themanwiththeblackcoat

Editor in Chief : Luis Fernando Vergara, COO: Carolina Gomez, Advertising Director: Elizabeth Gomez, Design: Branders Magazine


The contents of this publication is exclusive and opinions expressed are responsibility of the authors. Reproduction from the contents of this publication is prohibited without authorization.

Norman - Oklahoma +1 405 640 7391 | Branders Magazine is published by Branders Group










Leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection.

Blogger, Speaker & International Advisor in Marketing, Innovation, Management & Digital Transformation

Sports Brand Designer & Consultant at Going Throuh Changes.




Partner at Englander Knabe & Allen, a national expert on crisis and reputation issues.

Master Student in Strategic Communication in the University of Oklahoma.

Professional in Marketing Communication from the International Advertising Association (IAA) in New York.




Melissa Anges


When it comes to crisis communications, if you always focus on building a relationship with your customers, fans and followers, you will always find yourself communicating in the right direction.

Brad Phillips


You need to be prepared for today’s media culture, in which a tweet can become newsworthy and a news interview can become tweetworthy.



Very simply, your organization’s crisis plan is incomplete without a comprehensive digital strategy. BRANDERS MAGAZINE • 2018 9


BRAND CRISIS IN 2107 Pepsi’s Advertisement The spot was strongly criticized and categorized as “Offensive” and “insensitive” because they used images very similar to those that have been lived on numerous occasions in the US during the racial protests, and because they used social justice activities as strategy to sell their product. The largest number of critics came through the social network Twitter, using images to compare the moment when the model approaches to the agent and the moment when protester Ieshia Evans, arrested in July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, approached a police checkpoint, an iconic image against racial violence in the United States. Pepsi had to remove the spot from the media because they wanted to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding but clearly they did not and they had to apologize with the audience.


United Airlines’ Removal Of A Passenger United Airlines’ stock plummeted after videos of a passenger being violently dragged off an overbooked plane circulated on the internet. At first, United stood by the forceful removal of the passenger but then issued a cold apology, with the company’s CEO saying, “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” After intense backlash and boycott threats, United took full responsibility and made the apology that it should have made immediately after the incident: “We have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.” By this point, it was too late for consumers and the public to be appeased; United’s consumer perception dropped to a 10-year low following this incident and the company’ handling of it. That sincere apology should have been made during the immediate aftermath of the incident. (Retrived from

“Crying over spilled milk” The crisis of Pura Vida in Perú The company Gloria Group in Peru has faced a big crisis because one of its best-selling brands, “Pura Vida,”, has not only been withdrawn from the market in Peru and Panama, but DIGESA (General Direction of Environmental Health in Peru) has suspended its sanitary registration and announced an economic sanction for the firm. But the improper labeling was just the beginning of the crisis. The label problem highlighted one of the largest ever crises for the Gloria Group company, one of the largest brands and market leaders of dairy products in Peru, and its loved brand Pura Vida.




Brand crisis In sports NOWADAYS, WHEN THE BRANDING COMMUNITY TALKS ABOUT THE NECESSITY TO ASSIGN BRANDS WITH HUMAN CHARACTERISTICS, THERE ARE SOME POINTS WHERE WE CAN SAY THAT BRANDS ARE INDEED LIKE PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY REGARDING REPUTATION. BY LUIS COSTINHA Sports Brand Designer & Consultant at Going Throuh Changes. Visual Communication Designer specialized in Brand Identities Design and planning personalized and effective Brand Strategies. @luiscostinha


ust like a person who seeks to preserve his reputation, brands are also concerned about the same with their customers, partners and society in general. What not all of the brands seem to have in mind, is that their concern for reputation must go along with the role of responsibility they possess. What we expect from brands today, can not be only the role of taking


care of themselves but also caring about the others and with “the others” we mean the society and those who they interact with. They have an educational role defined by the transmission of values in practical terms not just in a theoretical way. This new responsibility assigned to brands cover as well those acting in the world of sports, particularly


clubs and athletes (“BrandAthletes”). In sports, due to the amount of public it reaches and to the extreme emotional context in which is inserted, the notion of responsibility gains even more importance, since everything that is said or done gets a unique dimension. With an assumed unpredictable beginning, a brand crisis does not distinguish the offline from the online world, ending up unifying both realities. An offline triggered crisis will be reflected online, as well as the opposite. According to this, it becomes difficult to have a security plan to manage a crisis, but it is important for brands to create an internal debate about these possibilities in order to prepare some strategies that can be activated in case of need. HOW CAN BRANDS COPE WITH A BRAND CRISIS? Let’s focus on the case of “BrandAthletes”. Regardless of the sport practiced, or the notoriety of the athlete, it is common to see some crises with two different types of origin and responsibility: indirectly or directly. In the first case, certain negative contexts can affect the reputation of an athlete, without them having had a really direct relation with what happened. As an

example we can easily understand that neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo were the ones who filled out their tax return, but they turn out to be the face of a problem that can affect somehow their reputation as a brand. On the other hand, we see athletes who directly are the source of problems that trigger a crises, often associated with social networks publications. HOW CAN A BRAND ACT ON THIS? The first reaction can not be emotional, otherwise it may create an even bigger problem. At the same time, it is important to understand that not reacting can be interpreted as a sign of lack of concern about what happened. The reaction should be well thought but it will have to be able to convey a genuine message and it is vital that it can cause some proximity to its public and society in general, in order to recover credibility and trust. We can create a metaphor by saying the reputation of a brand is like a glass jar that when falls splits. If the brand is able to control the fall, the jar will break into just a few and big pieces that eventually can be glued and maintain the original appearance before the fall. If, on the other hand, the fall is strong and uncontrolled, the resulting pieces of glass will be harder to glue and consequently the initial appearance would become more difficult to recover. Repeatedly dropping the jar may prove to be irreparable. It is imperative that “BrandAthletes” get surrounded by a team that coordinates their communication process and discusses security plans capable of managing and minimizing brand crisis that may arise unexpectedly.



Responding to crises: The best way to look after your brand THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A POSSIBLE CRISIS IN SOCIAL MEDIA IS TO BE PREPARED, AND UNDERSTAND THE ROLES AND ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN A SITUATION WHERE REPUTATION IS AT RISK. BY CARLOS FELIPE BARRAGÁN LEAL Professional in Marketing Communication from the International Advertising Association (IAA) in New York. He worked developing relationship strategies, image capital, public affairs and crisis management for brands like The Airbus group, Nestlé and Veolia.


influencer or in a far-reaching account demand a quick response according to the crisis manual guidelines, to prevent further conversations that jeopardize the reputation.

Some cases are self-evident. Negative comments made by an

It is then that both speed and the assessment of the answer must be greater. Keep in mind official channels are to transmit official stances, so nothing is to be published without the crisis committee’s approval. Additionally, to determine

hat raises the first question: What can become a social media crisis? Often times, any opinion or post can be confused with a crisis due to the lack of knowledge about language and tone. Each case must be analyzed to avoid answering without any context using official channels, and create a reputation problem.



Publishing a poor response or unnecessary information through official channels can create the perfect setting for opportunists and opponents to attack the brand.

the assumption that people only have access to the message the brand conveys through official channels. Understanding this thinking gap is key to put a possible crisis under control, and to respond assertively and empathetically when a crisis develops. which speakers must not participate in the debate is critical. Publishing a poor response or unnecessary information through official channels can create the perfect setting for opportunists and opponents to attack the brand.

Every crisis is different, and each must be assessed separately. Initially, remaining silent is never a good strategy, except in very specific situations, especially when it involves people that have become a brand themselves. Even though silence can work against, issuing a delayed answer can be just as bad.

In this context, active listening tools and a digital team become basic supplies. The audience is able to receive and answer messages thanks to social media. They can form their own ideas and express their opinions and views. Many crises arise with

In essence, it is about understanding and weighing every situation by its true value. Calmness is the key attribute when dealing with a complex situation. All crises can be handled and, based on good criteria, they can even turn into an opportunity to reinforce the reputation.



How to use social media to survive a brand crisis BRAND CRISIS ARE A MORE COMMON SITUATION FOR COMPANIES SINCE SOCIAL MEDIA GOT TO OUR LIVES. SOME COMPANIES THINK THAT SOCIAL MEDIA CREATE BRAND CRISIS, BUT FROM MY POINT OF VIEW IS NOT TRUE. BY JUAN MERODIO Blogger, Speaker & International Advisor in Marketing, Innovation, Management & Digital Transformation @juanmerodio


hat is happening is the user has the power of knowledge and the power of spreading information fast and easily using social networks, so companies which are not transparent with users, will suffer the cost of a Brand Crisis in the present and in the future. But sometimes the crisis are not based in real information because a lot of fake news can appear on the Internet. At this point the Company has to prevent this situation and manage it using social listening tools to prevent and minimize the impact of misinformation. Pay attention to this figures from a research study made by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer: “28% of crisis


spread internationally within 1 hour, and on average it takes 21 hours before companies are able to issue meaningful external communications to defend themselves”. We have two sides of the same coin, on the one hand we have the danger that users on Social Networks could spread a message to create a crisis, but on the other hand companies can listen almost any online conversation to interact in real time for avoiding that a small crisis get huge, and this is just a responsability of each Company. Do you remember Volkswagen crisis in 2015? Look at this figures of the increase of tweets in just one week.


So best practices is working on a reputation preservation strategy align with a good social listening tool, who allow companies to know how to interact with users on Social Media in some steps of the crisis in real time saving time, what kind of messages send to them and what would be the best way in each step of the process. Some indicators that you must track are conversation volumen, share

of buzz, sentiment and Brand passion in order to understand consumers, opinions, behaviors and emotions. If you look at this tweet, you could know the gender, sentiment, location, influence and source, and using IA algorithms understand deeper attributes and contextual information around the conversation.

Another point that we have to focus which could change the whole meaning of on are the emojis, cause they are symbols a sentence.

KEY POINTS To sum up i would like to share with you the keypoint that you have to keep in mind for using social media to survive a Brand Crisis:

• Monitor your Brand and keywords 24/7 • Track conversations that are flaring up • Track your competitors • Using a social listening tool for alerts in real time • Build a crisis response plan with roles and tactics.




BUILDING AN INVINCIBLE BRAND IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks.




Cover WHAT IS CRISIS MANAGEMENT FOR MELISSA AGNES? COULD YOU DESCRIBE A SITUATION THAT YOU DEFINE AS A CRISIS? It is extremely important for organizations to define what a crisis is to their company, as a crisis for one organization is not necessarily a crisis for another. Additionally, in this age of social media, where issues can quickly go viral and cast unwanted negative attention upon your brand, you want to ensure that your entire team is able to detect the difference between an issue and a crisis, so as to be able to respond appropriately. So, how do you define a crisis for your organization? Following are baseline definitions of both an “issue” and a “crisis”, taken from my new book, Crisis Ready. Feel free to take these definitions and use them to define and identify crisis scenarios for your organization.


A crisis is: a negative event or situation that impacts, or threatens to impact: • people (stakeholders), • the environment, • business operations, • the organization’s reputation and/ or • the organization’s bottom line… … over the long-term. A crisis is a negative event that will stop business as usual to some extent, as it will require immediate attention and decision-making from leadership.


An issue is: a negative event or situation that either: • does not stop business as usual, and/or • does not threaten long-term negative impact on any of the five business attributes listed above. However, this is not to say that issues aren’t important to quickly detect and manage, as mismanaged issues can develop into crises.



2. the way in which the organization chooses to communicate with its stakeholders.

While the strategy of response depends on the Successful crisis management requires an specifics of the situation, there are two necessary organization to perform well in both of these areas, components of successful crisis management: simultaneously—and there are numerous examples of organizations that have failed in their overall crisis 1. the actions the organization takes to manage the management, as a result of only prioritizing or excelling actual incident, and in one of these areas.


Cover So, how do you do this? A good rule of thumb, to be used as a highlevel baseline, is the following play on the word CRISIS, taken from Crisis Ready: Communicate Respect Investigate Show Issue-manage Sustain Let’s break this down: C IS FOR “COMMUNICATE” You can do everything right behind the scenes, but if you don’t communicate in a timely, transparent, and compassionate manner, all these behind the scenes efforts will be for nothing.

this investigation. Having the right mindset means that, in a crisis, you will care about uncovering the root cause of the incident—because without the answers as to how and why the crisis happened in the first place, how can you ever aim to fix the problem and improve? S IS FOR “SHOW” To position your organization as the voice of trust, credibility, and leadership in a crisis, you must show strong, emotionally intelligent leadership that prioritizes people above processes and bottom lines. Demonstrate and prove this in all aspects of your crisis management, including your choice actions, not just your choice words.

I IS FOR “ISSUE-MANAGE” One of the secrets of crisis R IS FOR “RESPECT” prevention is effective issue Emotions run high in times of management. This means your crisis and emotion is one of the key organization needs to prioritize factors that can quickly send a crisis— issue management by empowering or an issue—going viral against your team members to proactively detect organization. It’s also important to issues in real time, and then to take remember that logic can never trump corrective actions to mitigate their emotion. So, to have your story heard escalation. and resonate with your stakeholders on an emotional level, you need to A CRISIS IS be ready and willing to first respect A NEGATIVE and validate their feelings and their EVENT THAT sentiment towards the incident and WILL STOP the organization. I IS FOR “INVESTIGATE” What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen? In order to get to the root cause of an incident, you will need to investigate. Depending on the scenario, your team, your board, and / or thirdparty experts may need to conduct



S IS FOR “SUSTAIN” Sustain your business and your brand’s reputation by choosing to learn from mistakes and by committing to improvement and positive evolution. This means implementing corrective actions and behaviors to right wrongs and ensure certain incidents never happen again. You won’t be forgiven for making the same mistake twice, so don’t. WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, ARE THE PRINCIPAL MISTAKES THAT BRANDS MAKE DURING A CRISIS? There are two common mistakes that I see most-often made and then regrettably expressed by team members post-crisis. These two mistakes are: • Forgetting to communicate with employees; and • Choosing to not communicate with stakeholders in real-time. Forgetting to communicate with employees When a sudden and unforeseen crisis or viral issue strikes, the common first thought is towards external stakeholders, such as customers, investors, shareholders, vendors, the media, and the general public. Internal communication is too-often an afterthought, which comes as a result of not having been adequately prepared—or “crisis ready”. Your employees play an important role in the organization’s crisis management and, therefore, need to be kept informed. The better informed

Branders Unfortunately, the longer you take to respond to a crisis, the more: • control you risk losing over the narrative, allowing others to tell and control your story; • credibility and trust you risk losing with your key stakeholders; and • the higher the Crisis Response Penalty* (CRP) risks being on your brand. * The CRP is an important consideration that evaluates the material impact that a crisis has on a brand, both in the short- and long-term, as a result of the brand’s ineffective management of the crisis. The hard CRP looks at the immediate monetary impact that the crisis has on a brand as a result of ineffective communication and management of the incident; while the soft CRP evaluates the long-term impact on more intangible, yet critical, factors such as stakeholder trust, customer loyalty, and brand reputation. I dive further into examples of CRP in my book, “Crisis Ready”.

they are, the more valued they will feel as members of the team, and the better equipped they will be to ensure consistency in business operations, crisis management actions, and communication with stakeholders that they own the relationships, as well as their own personal and professional networks. Consistency is essential when it comes to crisis management, whether we’re talking about consistent communication and messaging, or consistent actions

HOW SHOULD AN ORGANIZATION COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR being taken in response to the crisis. STAKEHOLDERS IN TIMES OF The only way to ensure consistency CRISIS? throughout the entire organization, While the precise crisis is to communicate efficiently and effectively with your team throughout communication strategy depends on many factors, including the management of the crisis. specifics regarding the incident regulatory restrictions Choosing to not communicate itself, and requirements, stakeholder with stakeholders in real-time This usually happens as a result expectations, and more, what is of a lack of understanding of today’s important when it comes to effective real-world crisis management crisis communication is to know who realities, expectations, and impacts. your stakeholders are and what each


Cover WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IS DURING A CRISIS? DO YOU THINK THEY HELP OR HINDER THE BRAND? The media’s job is to provide the public with unbiased information. However, with things like the 24/7 news cycle, click-bait, and emotionally compelling headlines that can be shared without their articles actually being read—and therefore unfounded, emotional judgements being formed—the media certainly presents challenges to organizations in crisis. It’s more difficult than ever to get ahead of the news and control the narrative of your own story.

stakeholder group will expect of your organization in times of crisis. This is a big part of becoming crisis ready. As we saw earlier, crisis management is about people. So, in order to develop the right crisis communication strategy, you will want to answer questions such as:

The good news, however, is that organizations are no longer dependent on the media to communicate their stories. Will they take to social media and The internet has provided every expect to be responded to there? organization with an equal Will they instinctively navigate to opportunity to be their own your corporate website? media, leveraging their own platforms—from their website and • Who within your teams will be responsible for drafting, finalizing, WHAT IS and communicating with your IMPORTANT WHEN different stakeholders? How will this IT COMES TO internal drafting and dissemination EFFECTIVE CRISIS process take place?

• Who are the people that matter most to your business and, in the event of a crisis, what expectations These are all questions that can will they have in the organization? and should be answered now, prior to a crisis striking. Understanding • What will their primary concerns and who your stakeholders are, what questions be, that they will expect—and their expectations will be, and even demand—answers to? how your team will meet those expectations in real-time, will give • How will they expect those you a leading advantage when time communications to take place? Will is of the essence and your brand’s they expect a phone call? An email? credibility and goodwill are at stake.



Branders newsroom, to social media, etc.— to make smart decisions in tough to communicate directly with situations that will mitigate those who matter most to their further escalation of the incident. business, in real-time. This is where modern With all of this said, it is still businesses are most exposed. No as important as ever to establish matter our level of security, due relationships with the media prior diligence, or control, the reality to ever experiencing a crisis. The is that we live in uncertain times media should be seen as a means where organizations are prone to an end—the end being factual to a multitude of risks that can and consistent communication come from every angle. The with your stakeholders. Choosing biggest risk is not that they to foster trusting and mutually might happen, but that if beneficial relationships with they do happen, your team the media now, will serve your is not ready or empowered organization well in times of to instantly nip them in the crisis. bud. SHARE WITH US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BOOK “CRISIS READY”. HOW DOES THE BOOK HELP PROFESSIONALS BUILD AN INVINCIBLE While there are a range of BRAND IN THIS risks—whether we’re talking UNCERTAIN WORLD? targeted cybersecurity attacks, straight through to impactful Crisis Ready begins by employee misconduct—the providing readers with an greatest risk lies in having a team in-depth understanding of that: what it means to be crisis ready, and then moves into • Is not trained to see—or better providing the exact roadmap yet, anticipate—a rising threat, in for implementing a crisis ready real-time; culture—and building brand • Does not understand how to invincibility. I have taken every quickly assess the emotional aspect of how I help clients build relatability of that threat and invincible brands, through my instantly identify its potential consultancy and as a speaker, and long-term negative impact on the poured it into this book, leaving organization; nothing out. • Does not clearly understand what is expected of them when Organizations that are crisis these types of threats materialize; ready are more than just resilient. • Is not trained or empowered They’re invincible, but they’re

invincible because they deserve to be. Organizations that are crisis ready don’t just understand the high-impact risks that pertain to their business and how to prevent and manage them; they understand and appreciate the people who enable their business to exist, and they are focused on leading with heart, authenticity, and value.


I strongly believe that if every organization was crisis ready, we would live in a much kinder, more balanced world. Every worthy organization deserves to be invincible. But as much as I may like to, I can’t work with every organization. What I can do is provide my framework and an exact roadmap for effective implementation. This is what I’ve done through this book, for precisely these reasons.



Paradigms of public relations and crisis communication MANY TIMES, THEORY AND PRACTICE COME UP TOGETHER. HOWEVER, THEORY SOMETIMES OFFERS DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, WHICH HAVE EFFECTS ON THE WAY PRACTITIONERS SHOULD APPLY THESE THEORIES. BY LOARRE ANDREU PEREZ Master Student in Strategic Communication in the University of Oklahoma. Her research interest is public relations, especially topics with both theoretical and practical repercussions. She also works as an assistant in courses such as public relations writing and media law.




n public relations, there are two main paradigms: the symbolic or interpretive paradigm, and the behavioral or strategic management paradigm. Both of them are equally valid. Scholars developed theories around these paradigms, and for the same kind of matters, there can be more than theoretical based proposal on how to act as a practitioner. But first, it is important to take a look at these paradigms, because practical advice is linked to the theoretical background. In the interpretive paradigm, public relations efforts aim to influence on public perception of the behaviors of organizations. Public relations in the strategic management paradigm, in contrast, focus on managing organizations’ behaviors rather than interpret it to their publics.

In the interpretive paradigm, public relations efforts aim to influence on public perception of the behaviors of organizations. These 6 principles are relationship, that aims to stablish long-term relationships with the publics in risk, accountability or acceptation of the responsibility, disclosure, symmetrical communication, promptness and inclusivity. In my opinion, it is important to know what conception of public relation organizations have, to follow a coherent model to manage crisis, and to assess communication models adequate to the overall communication style of the organization.

In crisis communication, the interpretive approach is Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT), developed by W. T. Coombs. This theory evaluates reputational threat based on crisis type –which is linked to people’s perception-, crisis history and prior reputation. Then, the model proposes a different communication strategy for each crisis situation. The strategic management paradigm is more about bridging. J. Grunig suggested 4 crisis communication principles for this paradigm, and J.-N. Kim and M. Chon added two more principles later, creating RAPIDS model for crisis and issue management excellence.





What to do when things go wrong: protecting the brand WHEN WRITTEN IN CHINESE, THE WORD CRISIS IS COMPOSED OF TWO CHARACTERS. ONE REPRESENTS DANGER AND THE OTHER REPRESENTS OPPORTUNITY. JOHN F. KENNEDY (1959) BY ERIC W. ROSE Eric Rose is a partner at Englander Knabe & Allen, a national expert on crisis and reputation issues and is often sought after by companies involved in litigation.


urricanes, flooding, a mass shooting, fast burning wildfires—all of these recent devastating events in the US have caused so much loss of life, destroyed so many homes and communities, and caused a stain on many brands. The tragic shooting in Las Vegas and recent natural disasters are a devastating reminder of the need for companies and organizations to be prepared for crises and to protect their brand. Being prepared for a crisis involves more than the capacity to manage the crisis itself—it means having the resources and resilience to continue operations. Companies affected by these recent events were best able to recover because they took prompt, decisive action to deal with the immediate crisis and resume


BRANDERS TALKS operations; communicated promptly makes their lack of preparation all the and frankly with stakeholders and news more shocking. media; and demonstrated practical compassion for the people impacted. Stakeholders National Football League

The reputation of any association depends on the confidence of its stakeholders, members, employees, government, the media, and business partners. Sooner or later virtually every organization faces a crisis that has the potential to destroy its public reputation.

The best way to manage a brand crisis is to avoid one in the first place. In 2016, after Colin Kaepernick started his protest of police brutality by sitting during the National Anthem, the NFL should have anticipated that the issue would surface again and created a A crisis is a difficult period that preparedness plan. threatens serious long-term brand damage, often triggered by a sudden It is shocking to many brand and event or a long-smoldering issue. Most crisis experts that the League that crises fit in one of four categories: takes so much pride in “protecting the shield” was not prepared for the • Manageable – Limited impact, backlash. To protect the brand, the comment, and public disclosure. NFL should have prepared consistent • Smoldering – No widespread messages and statements for NFL immediate impact, but must be owners, coordinated responses that monitored. included both owners and the Players • Limited Crisis – Impact is confined Association, and reminded the public of to business unit or geographic location the NFL’s long-standing appreciation only. of veterans and first responders. Had • Full-Blown Crisis – Allegations the NFL been prepared, they could of criminality or threat to public have instantly rolled out a campaign and safety; active, aggressive opposition limited damage to their brand. to organization’s position; financial impact; and/or the filing of serious Every year, crisis professionals criminal charges. sit with clients and go through an exercise that anticipates potential crisis Even after an organization has done situations. Then we plan for them so everything possible to promote open that when the crisis happens, we can and supportive relationships with its respond seamlessly and protect the primary stakeholders, crisis can lead to brand. That clearly did not happen with disaster. Every association, no matter its the NFL, and therefore they walked into size or mission, must prepare in advance a trap where no matter what they said, for the worst and protect itself with a 50% of the public was going to be upset business continuity plan. Every business with them. The NFL is a multibillion- continuity plan must have within it a dollar organization that takes pride in well-defined crisis communications plan protecting their public image, which that can be executed on short notice.


The Plan Crisis communication programs are nothing more than a set of formal processes for communicating with key stakeholders in times of crisis. They are built around detailed action plans, checklists, and specific timelines. No single program can ever fully address every possible unforeseen organizational challenge in detail, but it can provide a roadmap for when the inevitable crisis occurs. Every organization should invest in developing a program that will: • continually monitor emerging issues to maximize the odds of neutralizing them before they metastasize into crises • maintain ongoing, open communications with stakeholders • maintain the organization’s brand and credibility • minimize harm—real and perceived—and threat of harm to employees and others • resolve crisis issues as quickly as possible • demonstrate commitment to the safety and well-being of employees and all other stakeholders • create positive media coverage or, if necessary, neutralize negative or inaccurate media coverage • return to a normal operating environment as quickly as possible • plan for “after action” reviews to learn from each event and improve the system for dealing with future crises


Reacting Effectively It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of being responsive, sensitive, credible, and accurate early in the crisis. Every organization struggles at this point with multiple anxieties that often paralyze management and lead to indecision and non-communication. Hesitation, vagueness, and unwillingness to communicate destroy credibility and plant the seeds of future disaster. Instead, from the get-go, the organization should:

business conduct, public citizenship, and to the best interests of members, employees, and the general public. Keys to Success Every brand crisis is unique. Each creates different demands on those whose task it is to communicate. However, certain key principles underlie successful communication in most crises.

Every brand crisis is unique. Each creates different demands on those whose task it is to communicate.

• Define the real communications issue and determine strategy accordingly. • demonstrate support for the needs Make certain that the core communication and best interests of members, suppliers, issue is being addressed, which may be employees, and any others who may be different from the operational problem. affected by crisis events Once the communication issue has been • speak in a clear and consistent voice defined, the crisis team must determine to all stakeholders the objectives of its crisis communication • reiterate your commitment to high program and the strategy necessary to standards of product or service quality, achieve them.


BRANDERS TALKS • Keep it simple. Many crises are complex, and complexity does not make for clarity. Remember that the chances are that the more you are explaining, the less you are convincing. People will not sit still for long, complicated explanations. • Manage both the internal and external flow of information. Organizations often focus on managing the external flow of information in a crisis situation. However, it is equally important to manage the internal flow because employees are often the prime drivers of external perception and awareness. This means it is vital internal audiences are fully informed. • Assume the situation will get worse before it gets better. Be careful not to be overly optimistic or make categorical public statements early in a crisis. • Understand the media interest in your story. Although the media is the prime driver of most communication crises, no organization should rely on the media to deliver its message. Reporters often delight in the crisis environment in a way that is not helpful to a company and its executives. • Remember ALL your constituencies. During a crisis, organizations often distributors, suppliers, investors, analysts, overlook direct communications to affected government regulators, sales representatives and constituencies. Use the best technology at your the media. disposal to communicate with all major stakeholders Confidence Communication It is impossible to overemphasize the importance Communicating your organization’s plans of being responsive, sensitive, credible and accurate and reporting progress or crisis status early on is early in a brand crisis. Every organization struggles crucial to reducing rumors, confusion, anxiety, and at this point with multiple anxieties that often misinformation. paralyze management and lead to indecision and non-communication. In addition to internal audiences, it is vital that leaders of organizations speak early to vital The first thing the CEO needs to do is put on a external audiences that could include customers, brave face for the employees. The employees need to


BRANDERS The second step is convening an emergency council of top advisors. Work out a short-term plan to deal with the immediate situation. Time is of the essence, especially if the issue deals with issues involving public health or safety. Leaders faced with brand crisis are often deluged with advice from people inside and outside the organization, and some of it may seem counter-intuitive. As the company leaders develop a short-term reaction plan, they should ways remember that the best piece of advice is to trust your instincts. The Media Determining how to handle the media when an organization is in crisis is one of the most important decisions any CEO will make. Brand and crisis management requires reacting immediately to bad news and then working on a long-term plan to resolve the issue with minimum damage to the organization’s reputation. Every crisis CEO quickly learns that the media is not always interested in just the facts, they are interested in controversy. Controversy sells. It is the red meat of social media, local and cable TV news, bloggers, have confidence that the CEO will lead them and all manner of journalists. through the storm. Prepare them for the Social media compounds the problem fact that there will be tough times ahead for because there’s no responsible editorial the brand—they will be hearing all kinds of rumors, reading all manner of accusations, control. Anyone can write anything about and seeing their organization vilified. anybody, and no one is ever held accountable. Assure them that, while it will take some Making matters worse, today’s mainstream time, the organization will recover its good media often turns to this new media for name. It is impossible to overemphasize information to frame their stories, using the importance of keeping all employees internet rumor and innuendo and giving on board and confident. Employees will credibility to all kinds of unsubstantiated be talking to their friends, neighbors, and “facts” and unsubstantiated sources. even the media. They can be your strongest No generic media strategies or formula supporters if you work at keeping them up to work every time. Your public relations team speed and confident.



member can make that kind of assessment long run. Be respectful of media people and based their knowledge of the situation and the their deadlines, be responsive, and treat them key players in the media. like professionals. CEOs should resist the temptation to be the face of the organization when dealing with the media during a crisis. CEOs are easy to demonize. Bland organizational spokespeople, particularly regular company employees, often make better spokespeople because they personalize and humanize the company’s message. The good news is that there is so much news these days the media often lose interest fairly quickly, at least in situations not involving public health or safety. That doesn’t mean that the public or brand reputation problems are over, only that they won’t be headline material for very long.

Taking Charge It is important to demonstrate control of a crisis situation by being the key source of information. This can be difficult at the beginning, when factual information may be in short supply. However, if the company doesn’t operate an efficient communications schedule from the beginning of a crisis to the end, it risks losing control of the news agenda. By communicating with the news media on a regular basis during a crisis, it will be clear that the company, not some third party, is the key contact.

It is important to demonstrate control of a crisis situation by being the key source of information.

Government attention

Over the longer haul, a strategy of consistently playing straight with the media Rare is the brand crisis today that doesn’t pays the biggest dividends—stonewalling or involve dealing with a government agency at being less than truthful never works in the some level. Government officials tend to see


BRANDERS things in black and white, not shades of gray, and they will not automatically assume you are honest or dealing with them in good faith. Their job is to protect the public, not to get along with the corporation. As an honest CEO who has worked long and hard to build a reputable business, this can be hard to take.

effort to keep employees on the team, and it will be well rewarded.

Companies, organizations, and associations can seek the help of professionals to develop wellconstructed crisis and brand-protection plans before a crisis hits. Be sure to review technical needs and design and implement Internet and Resist the temptation to lash out at government Twitter dark sites if necessary. Emphasize both in public and in private. Aggressive making the plan user-friendly. Everyone charged statements have a way of leaking to the media, with brand protection should remember to fast. Government people hate being attacked, and keep preparedness plans alive through regular they will find a way to retaliate. updating as well as through training and simulation sessions. Fight battles as privately and civilly as possible—not in the media. CEOs set the tone No one can guarantee a perfect outcome in for their organizations, and they need to make it every situation. However, a crisis can be properly clear that they will work with the government as managed with strategic, thoughtfully designed efficiently as they can. Never lose sight of the fact and professionally executed strategy in order to that the goal is to end the controversy as quickly protect critically important public reputation. as possible, with the least amount of damage to the company’s reputation and bottom line. Deal with the government honestly, respectfully, and carefully. They are professionals at what they do and will be around long after the particular matter is resolved. If at all possible, resolving the issue with them on mutually acceptable terms is paramount. Do not in any way give the government an incentive to come back at you once the issue has been put to rest. When it is all over, move on. Do not dwell on the crisis.

The last thing you want is people adding to the flames by criticizing the company. Make the effort to keep employees on the team, and it will be well rewarded.

Final Thoughts Throughout the crisis and beyond, handle internal company communications carefully and thoughtfully. Employees at all levels are some of the best assets when it comes to reassuring the public that the company is fundamentally honest and solid. Remember that some, perhaps all employees may be taking a heavy flack from families and friends. The last thing you want is people adding to the flames by criticizing the company. Make the



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Music, technology, fashion and other industries you should follow if you work with Branding! That’s why Branders Magazine brings you the latest launches & best gadgets!

Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote The new product offers a stylish minimalist design made out of polished metal, weighing in at just 49g, with the slim build meaning it sits nicely in the palm of your hand. Three programmable buttons on the front giving you the opportunity to control your presentation however you like. The remote is able to highlight and magnify certain areas on screen, allowing you to focus on specific items or points, and has a range of up to 30 metres for those grander presenting occasions, connecting via Bluetooth to your Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS or Android device.

CRISIS READY By Melissa Agnes The book is a compelling reminder that managing a crisis is not the same as managing a company. If you think the same management techniques that allow you to win at business will enable you to weather a crisis – you are doomed.

Sennheiser MB 660 Wireless ANC Headset In modern busy offices, it can be tricky to get some quiet - particularly if you’re trying to carry out a conference call or video meeting from your desk. Sennheiser, which is perhaps better known for its consumer headphone line, is looking to address this with a new headset targeted at business customers. The MB 660 may resemble normal ‘cans’ style headphones, but in fact can act as a Bluetoothenabled wireless headset, allowing you to use them as a meeting accessory in today’s UC-dominated workplace.

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LUKASZEWSKI ON CRISIS COMMUNICATION By James Lukaszewski In a crisis, your company spokespersons, managers, and employees must know exactly what to do, what to say, when to say it, and when to do it.



BRAND MARKETERS INSIDER SUMMIT: THE ROI OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (Date: March 6-9, 2018) C3 2018 (Date: March 7-8, 2018) At C3, you’ll get the right mix of marketing inspiration, innovation, and insight. Whether you’re responsible for SEO, site rankings and traffic, content strategy creation and implementation, or you’re a digital marketing leader with overall responsibility for marketing results, we’ve got you covered. For years, Conductor has put on this multi-faceted conference in the Big Apple. Choose from agenda tracks based on your expertise — strategic SEO, content marketing intelligence, and digital marketing leaders from 40-plus speakers (tons of brand marketing executives from companies like Microsoft, GoDaddy, Aetna and Sealed Air) who reveal the secret to more conversions and engagement through digital marketing, SEO and content.

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James Lukaszewski James (Jim) E. Lukaszewski (Loo-kaSHEV-skee) is one of America’s most visible corporate go-to people for senior executives when there is trouble in the room or on the horizon. As America’s Crisis Guru®, Lukaszewski is known for his ability to help executives look at problems from a variety of sensible, constructive and principled perspectives. He has spent his career counseling leaders of all types who face challenging situations that often involve conflict, controversy, community action or activist opposition. He is known for taking a business approach rather than traditional PR strategies by teaching clients to take highly focused, ethically appropriate action. He is a consummate storyteller. Lukaszewski has helped leaders in organizations large and small in literally every standard industrial classifications (SIC): for-profits, non-profits, government, military, private organizations and public organizations. He is often retained by senior management to directly intervene and manage the resolution of corporate problems and bad news while providing personal coaching and executive recovery advice for executives in trouble or facing career-defining problems and succession or departure issues. Throughout his career, beginning in 1974, his skills, knowledge, ability and professional leadership have been recognized continuously.


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Branders issue 9  
Branders issue 9  

Crisis Management Building an INVINCIBLE Brand in an Uncertain World