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crisis communications

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Doing the right thing - a smart PR move

It’s always great to see when a sensible business gets their PR so right in a proactive manner.

For anyone that ever spent 5 minutes in a car in Southern California, they are (without doubt) bound to have heard the rather dodgy sounding radio commercial for 1-800-GET THIN and their revolutionary lap-band procedures that will have you dropping 125 lbs and whizzing around shopping malls in no time. Oh, and your insurance will cover it. But hurry – this offer won’t be around forever.

OK – so the commercial is really, really tacky and their jingle sounds no better when my 9 year old suddenly starts humming it.  You listen to this advert and you know, instinctively, that something is wrong. Somehow you visualize yourself walking into a very dirty and smelly waiting room and being helped by personal that don’t look qualified to take your temperature – let alone open your stomach up.

California has some very large people, and when you live in a city that chooses to wear sweat-pants and do yoga on the beach, you know you got to look good. It therefore stands to reason that there is some very serious amount of business here.  And as any savvy businessperson has probably already worked out, 1-800-GET-THIN is really only a marketing company – that in turn provides leads to independent clinics that in turn provide surgery using Allergan’s Lap-Band weight-loss device.

What do you do when you provide the devise that according to lawsuits is central to five Southern California patients whom have died since 2009 following Lap-Band surgeries at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN?  You do the right thing.

Allergan today announce that they will no longer sell its Lap-Band weight-loss device to companies affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company. In a business where everyone is chasing the dollar and making their next quarterly goals for financial pundits, this is the right thing to do. From a business perspective, while it’s never easy to turn down sales, in this instance the PR team is handling what could be a PR crisis very well.

Good luck to Allergan Inc – smart PR move.

Now hopfully my 9-year-old can stop humming that stupidly anoying jingle.

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Ultimate Power to Shaving-Foam Pies – the good, the bad and the ugly…

Rupert Murdoch
- listed three times in the Time 100 as among the most influential people in the world
- ranked 13th most powerful person in the world in the 2010 Forbes' The World's Most Powerful People list.
- net worth of US$7.6 billion,
- ranked 117th wealthiest person in the world in March 2011

- ohh, and now part of a media crisis situation and getting shaving-foam pies thrown in his face.

And just incase you missed the news, the news you should be reading, is probably owned by Rup. From the recently closed News of the World and other ‘salubrious’ UK media such as The Sun, to the Wall Street Journal and into broadcasting - Fox Broadcasting Company to DirecTV.

In July of 2011 Murdoch became a prominent figure in the media after widespread allegations that the now defunct tabloid News of the World, owned by Murdoch's NewsCorps, had been regularly hacking the phones of private citizens.

Here’s the warning – even if you own a majority of the media, you can find yourself in a crisis communication situation.

What should be done?

We know the most effective cause of action in a crisis situation is:
Concern – Relief – Reassurance

Well, Rup did show concern & reassurance - On the 15 July Rupert Murdoch attended a private meeting in London with the family of Milly Dowler, where he personally apologized for the hacking of their murdered daughter's voicemail by a company he owns. On the 16 and 17 July, News International published two full-page apologies in many of Britain's national newspapers. The first apology took the form of a letter, signed by Rupert Murdoch, in which he said sorry for the "serious wrongdoing" that occurred. The second was titled "Putting right what's gone wrong", and gave more detail about the steps News International was taking to address the public's concerns.

What did he do wrong?

Another basic lesson in crisis communications is:
Tell it all – tell it soon – tell it truthfully

Well Rup doesn’t get full points on this scale – in fact it took a summons (after a polite request) to get him to appear before parliament in the UK.

But the biggest sin is credibility. Rup just doesn’t have any:
1 – Rups response to a Member of Parliament’s question: “Do you accept that ultimately, you are responsible for this whole fiasco?” Without equivocation, Murdoch replied “No.” He, instead, pointed a finger at subordinates.
2 – He argued that since he ran a global business of 53,000 employees and that the News of the World was "just 1%" of this, he was not ultimately responsible for what went on at the tabloid.
3 – news already out that the phone hacking scandal is the subject of a new book by Guardian reporter Nick Davies and publishers Faber and Faber.
4 – his son is the CEO...

Oh, you interrupt, but wasn’t it great how he expressed it was his most humbling day of his life?

But it takes the HuffPost to really put this in context:

Following several days of coaching by lawyers and PR experts, it must have been really rattling for Rupert and James Murdoch when showtime arrived to learn that the parliamentary committee questioning them would not permit opening statements. Framing, after all, is the name of the game.

To control the package that the narrative comes in is to control the meaning of the story.

No wonder Rupert Murdoch felt compelled to interrupt his son at the top of his first answer to say, "This is the most humble day of my life." That was the frame his team had planned, not some "what did you know, and when did you know it?" storyline that the committee wanted to pursue.

So today we learn to take one of the best examples of ‘framing’ to our next crisis communication scenario.

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Births, deaths and marrages...

My late grandmother used to have me read the births, deaths and marriages section of The Times every day after lunch (this was before I was old enough to go to school or too young to look after myself in school holidays).

I never really understood why she was so interested... but it turns out (yet again) my grandmother was more in touch with the mass media than I knew and understood exactly what the consumers of media are interested in.

The world's news reads very much like the announcements section of one of those old fashioned paper newspapers... all birth certificates, weddings and obituaries.

The long-form of Obama's birth certificate was all news worthy and took much of the press space until...
The Wedding took over. Whether it was the kiss, Pippa's dress or the Aston Martin, it was all we could talk about until...
The death of the century took over.

So I guess the question is - who's birth, death or marriage is coming next?

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Get your Mojo on with PR

In Mojo - How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It (by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-1401323271) the authors explain exactly what Mojo is (and we though it was not definable). Mojo comes from the moment we do something that is purposeful, powerful and positive, and the rest of the world recognizes it. Mojo is about that moment and how we can create it in our lives, maintain it and recapture it when we need it.

They go on to explain, how our professional and personal Mojo is impacted by four key factors and the questions they ask: identity (Who do you think you are?), achievement (What have you done lately?), reputation, (Who do other people think you are — and what have you done lately?) and acceptance (What can you change — and when do you need to just “let it go”?).

And hence the most obvious segue into public relations. Every corporate client we are work with need to look at:
* What is the company?
* What has the company done lately?
* What do other people (customers, fans, voters, staff, competitors etc) think of the company?
* And, ultimately, when reviewing the media around that organization, what do you need to accept and when do you need to call the crisis communications team in.

De facto, Mojo = PR.

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