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April 1, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged

Malaysia Airlines Nails the Crisis Communications Checklist but Falls Short on Execution

There is a reason that an effective aviation accident response is considered the pinnacle of crisis management – accidents occur suddenly and without warning.  They are massive in scale – both in terms of the physical scene, and the potential to cause a very significant loss of life.  And they are followed by a who-dunnit style investigation where every move is scrutinized.  Add in episodes of completely tone deaf responses – from the infamous text messages from Malaysia Airlines to Thai Airways’ painting over its logo on the tail of the aircraft last year, and you’ve got a documentary-style drama better than anything on TV. Unfortunately, these events play out quickly and in a very public way, providing fertile ground for others to learn from the inevitable missteps that come in such high-stake, high-pressure situations.  The recent tragedy surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370 provides ample “lessons learned” for crisis response, many of which also apply across other industries. This is a case where the airline seemingly fulfilled the crisis plan’s checklist – it had a microsite up quickly and pulled all of its promotional content (both in terms of advertising and use of its social channels).  The…

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March 31, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Reputation Bracketology: Target vs. SeaWorld

This year’s NCAA tournament has had some significant bracket busting upsets.  If you are out of the office pool, fear not – the MWW Reputation Bracketology might be a nice diversion from feeling out of the office excitement. Let’s take a look at our first matchup: Target vs. SeaWorld. Target: Some have argued that despite posting a video message and letter to customers immediately after the data breach heard round the world, CEO Gregg Steinhafel has done little since then to keep customers informed. Moreover, while Target “benched” a starter with the resignation of its CIO, other critics say the move was three months too late. In spite of these critiques, Target remains a perennial favorite and a strong contender coming into this matchup with the top seed. It has managed to weather the storm with its stock price holding up, and it has been assertive and effective in its response with free credit reports for customers and sending its CFO to testify in Washington.  The company is also accelerating its $100 million investment in chip-based credit card technology – leaning in to a negative situation and creating a leadership opportunity. SeaWorld: This is a situation where the clock could run…

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March 28, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , , , ,

MWW Reputation Bracketology: Scorecard of Corporate Reputation Madness

It’s that time of year again where March Madness has replaced Mad Men as the big topic at the office coffee machine.  Analysis of bench depth, strength of schedule, and of course…the bracket-busting upsets.  Imagine if we could apply the same kind of bracketology to the notion of corporate reputation.  After all, companies are fighting for relevance – in both mind share and market share – every day. MWW’s Reputation Bracketology will look at companies who have been tackling the most severe challenges to their reputation. Currently, industries like retail, hospitality and entertainment, automotive, and financial services are facing the highest level of risk among those with reputation failures over the past year. We’ll consider a variety of factors that put a company’s reputation at risk – which should all be top of mind for the CEO and the C-suite team.  Our scorecard will look at the extent that the public’s perception influenced their decisions and actions. By how much did the company lose its key stakeholders’ trust, and how did that manifest in negative ramifications for the company? This manifestation of a lack of trust could be a plummeting stock price, a loss of market share, a disengaged consumer…

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malaysia

March 20, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

How Social Media is Elevating Airline Crisis Communication

At MWW we say that 60 seconds is the new first hour (the traditional window for a company to respond to a crisis).  Here is a great piece about social media and how it is changing crisis communications in the aviation industry, where the stakes are high, and the room for error is minimal.  

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March 19, 2014 | jzeitz | Tagged , ,

Wonks Beware

We’ve been following with more than passing interest the recent controversy concerning a letter signed by over 500 leading economists, in opposition to a $10.10 minimum wage.  Essentially a response to an earlier letter signed by over 600 economists in support of a wage hike, the recent circular raises perfectly legitimate questions that any college student should expect to encounter in a macro-economics class: is a higher minimum wage the most effective means of raising people above the poverty line, or does it have the opposite effect of encouraging employers to eliminate jobs and raise prices – two unintended consequences that might bear down hardest on people living in poverty?  Indeed, many progressive economists contend that the minimum wage is a less effective means of fighting poverty than more redistributive measures like the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Surely that’s what many of the 500+ economists had in mind when they wrote that poverty is a “complex issue that demands a comprehensive and thoughtful solution that targets those Americans actually in need.” So why the controversy?  Because it turns out that the opposition letter originated with the National Restaurant Association, and many if not most signatories – including Vernon Smith, a…

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lincoln

March 5, 2014 | jzeitz | Tagged , , ,

Making of a Presidential Reputation

Admin’s Note: This post originally appeared on O’Dwyer’s. Writing many years after the fact, John Hay, who served as a young White House aide to Abraham Lincoln, noted that if his boss had “died in the days of doubt and gloom which preceded his reelection,” rather than in the final weeks of war, as the Union moved to secure its great victory against the Confederacy, he would almost certainly have been remembered as a middling or mediocre president. It’s a useful time to think about the historical construction of presidential reputations. Strange though it seems to the modern ear, in his own lifetime, Lincoln was a deeply controversial leader – reviled throughout the South, disdained by a strong plurality of Northern voters, and underrated even by many in his own party, who agreed with one Republican senator that the nation sorely needed “a president with brains; one who can make a plan and carry it out.” It took a massive, quarter-century effort on the part of his aides and family members to rehabilitate his legacy. Lincoln’s son, Robert, carefully managed his father’s historical image.  Choking off access to the president’s official papers until 1947, he allowed only two men –…

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humble pie

March 4, 2014 | dlauer | Tagged , , ,

Corporate Leaders: Eat More Humble Pie

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” At MWW, we counsel our corporate clients to keep one fundamental axiom in mind: people trust people, not companies.  An organization’s leadership is on the front line of the reputation game.  You can build the best widget or provide the best service, but if your company’s senior leaders convey the wrong values or point of view, your stakeholders will move in another direction. If 2013 was a rocky year for corporate leaders – think Chip Wilson’s curious remarks about Lululemon’s customer base or the personal tribulations of Google co-founder Sergey Brin – it’s encouraging to find a rising corporate star who promises to be a beacon to American business leaders. Enter Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella. To be sure, the naysayers have their doubts: could an understated 46-year-old Indian immigrant known for quiet collaboration have what it takes to corral the cowboys of America’s hyper-completive corporate sector and, in the process, reawaken a slumbering tech giant? Only time will tell, but for now I am grateful that the decision is shining a light on the importance of one of the most overlooked and…

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February 25, 2014 | rtauberman | Tagged

Legal Sea Foods Turning a Tragedy into a Cause

Carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by what appears to be a fault in or failure of a flue pipe in a water heater, tragically took the life of Steve Nelson, the manager of a Legal Sea Foods restaurant at a mall in Long Island, NY last Saturday night. The Company responded quickly to the terrible news with postings on its Facebook page and a press release expressing its grief and focusing on the Legal Sea Foods family. CEO Roger Berkowitz traveled to Long Island to personally comfort staff and meet with reporters. As unfortunate as the incident is, it also showed an executive and communication team that was prepared and was on message with their response and having the CEO in the lead. While the investigation continues, from local officials and the Federal OSHA, media reports are looking at the causes (if not potential blame) and what could have been done to prevent such an incident. The Town of Huntington, where the restaurant was located, has already issued a summons to Legal Sea Foods for defective equipment and the Mall owners have been quick to point out that the Mall was outfitted with carbon monoxide detectors. The Legal Sea Foods did…

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February 10, 2014 | admin | Tagged ,

The Top Crises of 2013

2013 had its share of reputation losers but there were also a number of crises that caused the companies involved to take a step back and rethink their strategies. In Part 1 of The Holmes Report’s Top 12 Crises of 2013, Carreen Winters discusses where JPMorgan Chase went wrong with its misguided Twitter Q&A that was meant as an informative discussion and turned into another attack into the company’s reputation. JPMorgan’s reputation is one to watch in 2014 as it looks to reclaim its title as the best of the big banks. Part 2 of The Holmes Report’s list is expected to publish later this week.

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grace-skakel

February 4, 2014 | jzeitz | Tagged , , ,

“The Worst Carpenter This Side Of The Mississippi”: Your Reputational Rights In Flux

In today’s hyper-charged media environment, it takes just one false utterance to create a new (albeit false) reality. Back in the day, if a news outlet misreported a particular fact, the damage could be contained to a single print story or broadcast statement.  The best remedy in these circumstances was to correct and move on. Today, the landscape is much more treacherous.  One misstatement on a cable news show or error in a print article can quickly reverberate across digital and social channels and feed a self-referential string of follow-up stories, blog posts and organic conversations.  That’s why many of our clients, both individual and institutional, often seek our counsel on how best to address both intentional and inadvertent misrepresentations of fact. There’s a natural inclination on the part of aggrieved parties to sue.  Setting aside the question of whether legal action is the best first approach to dealing with a media-related reputational crisis (it’s usually not), there are substantial hurdles to pursuing correction or redress through the legal process.  In effect, the system privileges the collective right to open discourse over the individual’s right to protect his personal or institutional reputation. But the changing nature of celebrity and fame –…

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