Latest News

November 14, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

In Wake Of Blackfish Backlash, SeaWorld Takes A Plunge

  The verdict is out on the impact of “Blackfish,” the 2013 documentary that put SeaWorld’s treatment of orca whales in the line of fire: SeaWorld reported another disappointing quarter this week, with its profit falling 28 percent and its stock price down more than 50 percent from its 2013 April IPO following the news. We’ve been waiting to see how SeaWorld’s unconventional, public refutation would play out…and now we know. Customers and investors have spoken by closing their wallets. While SeaWorld attempted to counter the flood of harsh criticism from animal rights activists, lawmakers, celebrities, and media, its response was not well received. The amount of coverage about SeaWorld’s reputational and financial fails only increased, and the entire counter-campaign has become a spectacle and learning lesson for corporations and communications counselors. With a complaint to the Labor Department, an open letter to movie critics claiming that the film was misleading and false, and its “truth about Blackfish” website that frames the documentary as propaganda, SeaWorld has boldly played the defensive since the film’s debut at a time when companies would usually be holding their breaths. As I stated in another post, there’s a time to speak and there’s a…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 23, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , , ,

Advice to the NFL: Talk Less, Do More

If you are a reputation blogger, the NFL is a gift that just keeps on giving. I tried to root for them, I really did. I listened to Roger Goodell’s news conference and gave him the benefit of the doubt….apology (check), outline action & timeline (check), do something good for the issue of violence (check, check). Sure, Goodell fumbled badly when he had to go off script. And his delivery was hardly inspiring. But I hopefully (naively?) called it a first step toward reputation recovery. I was wrong. Perhaps the reason Goodell couldn’t manage well when he went off script is because the script wasn’t even his. It was written for him by a political operative (Because politicians are the gold standard in earning trust?). And how about the performance of Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s lame apology for the Ray Rice bungle? His delivery was moderately better than Goodell’s, but does he think admitting “it didn’t occur to him” to press for the video was a good reason? How about his idea of giving Ray Rice a six figure job with the team in “player development” – because we need more players who behave like him? The best advice…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 23, 2014 | admin |

Growing Up MWW: A 15 Year Lesson in Life, Business and Self-Discovery

A Note from Carreen Winters: From time to time we feature guest posts from clients, industry experts and other MWW leaders.  Today, we feature a post from Joe Cohen – who is a legitimate leader — of our firm, and our industry (he’s the National Chair of the PRSA).  I remember Joe when he joined us – an eager, earnest high energy Account Coordinator.  I was lucky enough to have Joe as a direct member of my team for more than ten years.  And I am so proud of all he has accomplished, and thankful for all he has contributed to MWW over the past 15 years.  As Joe gets ready to begin a new chapter in his professional life, he offered to provide his advice to PR professionals, from the hardest working man in PR.  Sometimes the student becomes the teacher.  And there is no better teacher of professionalism, passion and integrity than Joe Cohen.  I feel lucky to call him my colleague, and my friend.  I hope KIND knows how lucky they are to have Joe on their team.  Joe, MWW is a better agency because of you. ### “Our careers, like our lives, somehow divide themselves into eras, into…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 22, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

Is Paid Media the Final Reputation Frontier?

Reputation is one of those amorphous things that people struggle to define, yet seek to protect at all costs.  Famous quotes about the importance of reputation abound, and companies generally accept the notion that reputations are worth protecting. Over the two decades I’ve been working in reputation management, the practice has evolved from an earned media-centric model that was driven largely by the client asks for “positive publicity about the Company, featuring the CEO, please” to a more integrated approach and an understanding that reputation begins with your actions – it is something you demonstrate, more than you discuss.  Clients increasingly acknowledge the importance of internal culture to reputation, as employees are the universal touch point to all of your other constituents.  With the rise of social media, reputation managers embraced content and owned media as an effective tool for enhancing reputation and worked to be prepared for the power and speed of social when a crisis threatens a company’s reputation. Recently, there has been a noticeable uptick in the use of paid media for reputation efforts.  And while “brand advertising” has long been an accepted practice – these campaigns take a more substantive approach and highlight the Company’s values,…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 19, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Move the Chains: Roger Goodell’s Fumble Recovery

Just as the calls for his resignation reached a fever pitch, Roger Goodell pulled off a fumble recovery with his news conference today  (Although I’d throw a flag for the late start!). While the NFL, and Goodell, are far from being out of the woods, today marked an important first step in reputation recovery. What did the NFL (finally) get right? Goodell Manned Up – he took responsibility for bad processes, bad decisions and bad outcomes.  And promised to do better.  Never underestimate the value of an apology. Prescriptive and immediate actions were unveiled – education and training for all personnel will begin this month. NFL shed the block and pivoted to how the NFL can be a force for good – supporting credible organizations to tackle the larger societal problem of domestic violence.  They didn’t do it as well as NFL sponsor (and MWW client) Verizon – which made a similar call to action before the NFL did, and has been supporting domestic violence for years. Brought his potential adversary under the tent – the NFLPA by stating that they both agree that “There is no room for violence in the NFL” while outlining the need for change to…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 18, 2014 | admin | Tagged ,

The NFL in Crisis – How Can Its Reputation Be Saved?

The biggest news from the NFL over the first three weeks of the season has all been off the field with player arrests and suspensions relating to domestic and child abuse. EVP Carreen Winters recently appeared on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” to discuss what PR issues the NFL is facing and what the league needs to do to restore the trust in the shield. See Carreen’s interview here.

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 9, 2014 | dlauer | Tagged , , ,

Becoming a lifestyle brand, the Apple way

I’ve led corporate branding and narrative development for companies in every industry, from start-ups to the Fortune 100.  At one point in each and every audit, when asking executives who they most want to emulate or be aligned with, they all say the same thing: “I want to be Apple.” It has happened so often that I have had to specifically re-engineer my question to include a caveat – Apple doesn’t count.  Nor does Nike or Starbucks. These are the go-to brands that transcend their categories. Their very names have become known as widely-accepted verbs by everyone from Wall Street Analysts to Main Street Millennials.  These companies have created such strong emotional connections with their customers that they now serve to validate their identities and customers reciprocate by voluntarily tattooing their cars, computers and even bodies.  Because for their audiences, they are not corporations, they are a lifestyle. Lifestyle brands do more than achieve cult-like status among their followers. They successfully break away from the commodity space.  They command a price and loyalty premium unavailable to competitors. And the secret sauce? After researching and following so many of these brands, including those that have had success on a humbler stage,…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

September 7, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

“Reputational foul…inconsistent messaging…on the commissioner…15 yards”

As one of the world’s largest non-profit trade organizations, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell plays the role of CEO and as chief executive, it is crucial to have consistent messaging from the brand’s voice. And right now, the NFL has a messaging problem. Before the first 1:00 p.m. kickoff of 2014 this Sunday, the league has already created plenty of offseason noise to rival any stadium setting. Let’s recount some of the major news events across the field: This summer, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Brown went through an appeals process to overturn his season-long ban with the league for his second failed drug test. The league recently upheld their decision and the public made it clear they were not happy with the decision. Through a similar time window, on July 24, the NFL suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice two regular season games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy for his offseason arrest of domestic abuse; video surveillance shows Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé from an Atlantic City hotel elevator back in February after an altercation between the two. On August 28, Goodell publicly stated his wrongdoing in mishandling the Rice case, more than a month after the…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

August 14, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

The Art of Communications: When To Be Quiet

When you work in the public relations business, you learn to work the news cycle for your clients.  Bright ambitious professionals diligently track breaking news, and get creative about how to fit their clients into the trend.   A celebrity loses a ton of weight on your client’s diet program.  A prominent attorney comments on a verdict.  A CEO gives advice to college grads, or shares lessons learned from his Father on Father’s Day.  All in a day’s work. But there are some news cycles that you should just sit out.  And some in our profession just don’t learn.  I remember UPromise getting hammered when a well meaning, presumably very junior PR person pitched reporters on the “other tragedy of the day” -  lack of college savings -  shortly after the terrorists struck the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Rarely are the offenses so extreme, but it is these kinds of events that damage the reputation of the public relations profession. The most recent example comes from a major agency that tried to capitalize on the tragic suicide of Robin Williams by critiquing the mental health organizations who hadn’t engaged in social media, and reminding everyone that they are “in the…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!

July 21, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

GM CEO Mary Barra Stays the Course of Transparency Showing Action at Congressional Hearing

In her third appearance before Congress on Thursday, GM CEO Mary Barra held steadfast to her strategy of transparency and action. Her testimony showed accountability and company changes since the first recalls were announced in February, and it was clear she won over the Congressional panel, with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MS) going so far as to say “some see the record number of recalls at General Motors as a problem. I see it as a good sign.” Building on my assessment of Barra’s previous Congressional testimony in June, she did two things exceptionally well this time around to further her strategy and demonstrated that she has acted on her convictions. 1. Showed empathy and solutions for the victims Empathy is a crucial element to restoring a reputation after a major blow. Barra hit this on the head, addressing the victims and the families who’ve lost loved ones at the start of her testimony. She immediately connected with them by offering her “deepest sympathies” and reassuring them that GM will rectify the situation with “compassion, decency, and fairness” through a no-cap compensation fund. The hiring of outside consultant, Ken Feinberg, is the proof point that demonstrates this compensation will take place…

Read More
Be Sociable, Share!