Introducing The Crisis Management Advisor on Google Helpouts

I’m thrilled to be selected by Google this month as the first Crisis Management advisor on the new platform known as Helpouts. Helpouts allows me to counsel clients around the world with high resolution video that also allows us to share screens and collaborate. It’s been made so easy to make an online appointment and to pay for your time with me, either by the minute or by the session.

I look forward to meeting and advising individuals, companies and organizations facing crisis situations in 2014 and beyond using this great tool.

On the Helpout, I’ll quickly gauge the seriousness of your crisis, make recommendations and then get to work on the process of protecting your reputation.

That can take the form of creating sharp content that influences public opinion, helping to identify the right spokespeople, conducting media training for mock interviews and news conferences, teaching you how to deal with the media and how to use social media at all stages of a crisis (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and more).

Remember – a few hundred dollars spent on a Helpout could save millions of dollars of lost revenue due to a crisis situation that catches you and your organization off guard and that could destroy goodwill and hard-earned reputation.

Simon Says: We Don’t Care About People & Abercrombie No Better At Roosevelt Field

Compassion. Humanity. How hard is that? Well, for Simon Malls, owners of Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, Long Island, as well as Abercrombie & Fitch, guess they just can’t find the time to offer a statement of concern for the nine workers overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning this morning. Check out the tweets Simon/Roosevelt sent out a good three hours after the incident:

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And this tweet from Abercrombie at 12:30 pm EDT today (June 20):

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In today’s instant news cycle, it’s mandatory to post SOMETHING on social media — particularly your Twitter profile and Facebook page — in a crisis where people are hurt on or near your properties.

Instead of turning people off with “we’re open, come shop” the message should have been at least: “Our hearts and prayers go out to the workers injured today at our Roosevelt Field location. We’re working closely with authorities to investigate the cause.” (Simon Mall example).

Abercrombie could have said something similar.

Shame on Simon Malls and Abercrombie. Companies and organizations must put people first especially when lives are in danger.

Sometimes the problem lies at the top of the organization and other times it’s because companies employ junior social media people who have no clue about crisis situations or reputation management.

Either way, it’s an issue all companies must think about if they care at all about their long term reputation.

Rutgers, Barchi & What Organizations Can Learn About The Crisis Domino Effect

“Division I athletics are probably the best marketing tool we have in terms of getting the Rutgers’ name out there,” he said. “If they don’t know the name and they haven’t seen the brand, they’re not going to even look at you.” — Robert L. Barchi, Rutgers president, September 4, 2012 in Star-Ledger interview.

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Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi

A story in The New York Times today about Rutgers is a great example of how a crisis in one part of your organization can result in the media covering (or uncovering) bigger problems inside your administration. And that unplanned media attention can severely harm the entire reputation of an institution. I’ve always advised my clients to beware the smoldering fire, that slow-brewing crisis that suddenly envelops your administration (or your business) and brings greater harm to your institutional reputation.

I’ll now call this the Crisis Domino Effect or CDE.  The CDE is akin to that stuffy nose that leads to a cold that leads to a flu that won’t go away for weeks or months. And just like you try to throw everything at the cold (vitamins, OJ, medicines), you may try multiple tactics to rid your campus or business of the unwelcome media barrage – plus the social media inferno that either follows traditional media or motivates reporters to write stories.

You may “decline comment” or even curse at a reporter or editor for writing that story. You may try to put out a wishy washy statement that gets you in even MORE hot water with your critical audiences. Or, you may sincerely try to get the messaging just right, but you fail to convey or attach any human emotion to the spiraling crisis.

Let’s face it. If I’m a parent who a month ago was thinking about sending my child to Rutgers, it’s likely I’m going to revisit that decision in light of the gross mishandling of the belated firing of Mike Rice, the former men’s basketball coach. (As one of my guests on The Crisis Show pointed out this week, if that was his kid getting abused by a coach, he’d be driving to the school to confront that coach personally.)

It’s safe to assume that same parent considering sending their child to Rutgers has heard about the coaching fiasco. Combine that with today’s article –which focuses on numerous other criticisms of President Robert L. Barchi — and good chance I’m crossing Rutgers off the list. That’s why Barchi and Rutgers now have a full blown crisis and are scrambling to stop the bleeding. And as long as Tim Pernetti, the embattled athletic director remains, the loss of reputation won’t stop soon.

The Rutgers lesson is one I’ve seen so many times. A company, campus or other organization thinks it has an isolated HR problem, when in fact it’s much bigger than that. And, as Rutgers is experiencing, by “investigating” instead of “terminating” Rice last year, it now has a much more costly crisis in terms of litigation as well as lost revenue from those parents of prospective students who have now crossed Rutgers off their lists.

It’s also important to note that while this (thankfully) is not as serious as the Sandusky-Paterno-Penn State scandal, the story is similar in that horrible behavior emanating from the athletics department was ignored by college officials for years. Penn State has paid $208,000 per month to a big public relations firm since April 2012 for an engagement that was scheduled to end this month.

When you add up the costs of litigation, lost revenue and the cost to rebuild reputation, it’s clear that eliminating HR problems with decisive, early actions save reputations later –and monies can be spent more intelligently where all students benefit most. What do you think? Please comment below.

Crisis Management Webinar: Who Speaks for the Company During A Crisis?

Here’s information on a webinar I’m excited to participate in from 1pm-2pm EDT on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 with my colleague, Jane Jordan-Meier

Who Speaks for the Company When A Crisis Hits?

Learn the factors you need to consider in determining the critical choice of spokesperson. Through case studies, Rich will explain why some executives were successful in representing their company and why others actually harmed corporate reputation further by their actions and words.  He will also discuss best practices/ protocols for your spokespeople and what really works today. Rich will help you decide the best choice because each crisis scenario may have a different answer.

Jane Jordan-Meier interviews Rich Klein, founder and host of The Crisis Show and president of Rich Klein Crisis Management.

Click the link below for more information and to register: 

http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=45moqdlab&oeidk=a07e745l2qj5cb3ff28

 

The Public Relations Pro / Journalist Relationship

My colleague, Brad Phillips, author of The Media Training Bible, had an insightful blog post recently about whether public relations pros should sit in on interviews between journalists and their clients.

It was part of my conversation with Brad about media relations and included in this highlight from The Crisis Show, which aired January 9, 2013:

The Two Minute Warning – Crisis Management Tips in 2 Minutes

Every few months, I’ll be posting highlights from various episodes of The Crisis Show. The show airs on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT via Google Hangouts on Air and YouTube and typically runs one hour. To date, our show has been seen in 68 countries. Our growing archive is believed to be the largest online library of video content devoted exclusively to crisis management, crisis communications, litigation PR and social media crises.

For those who just want some crisis tips, here’s your two-minutes of warnings: