In this guest post, PR crisis management expert Gerry McCusker (pictured below) explains why a slow comment in a crisis is becoming the next worst thing to making no comment.
Recently, the AFL was heavily criticised for failing to issue a prompt condemnatory statement when one of its executives was cited for coward-punching (blindsiding) an opponent in an amateur football game. Despite following what they termed ‘due process’, the AFL leadership was lambasted for following a form of issues management broadly perceived as ‘wait and see’.
Having analysed and researched PR disasters for over a dozen years, I know that the W&S phenomenon comes from an era – a media age – when brands had the relative time luxury to formulate their response to an issue or crisis. That time, literally, has disappeared. In our crisis simulations with clients, we’re working to an issue acknowledgement time of seven minutes! Social media can drive the crisis narrative.
Customers, clients, the public and – more critically – the media, make their minds up about any incident, story, occurrence in the blink of an eye. More tellingly, they’re savvy enough to know when something is plainly wrong and should be called out as such. Yet many brands will dally and dither while deliberating if their ‘issue’ really is a ‘crisis’.
But given that media monitoring systems like Meltwater can pretty accurately indicate the strength of stakeholder sentiment on any given topic, what’s the issue with prompt engagement? What’s not to like about statements crafted to resonate with the citizenry?
In fact, when big data is turned into issues management ‘intel’, your brand can stay almost totally attuned to – and possibly move in step with – influencer and public opinion. As Carlos Castillo infers, there’s just no need to look unaware or unprepared.
I’ve consulted in incident situation rooms where ‘W&S’ execs prefer to see how bad or tortuous a situation will become before deciding if – or how – to engage with the crisis narrative. I’d prefer to help shape the story, rather than just be a victim of it.
I reiterate to clients, if you’re not IN(forming) the crisis narrative, you can’t influence it.
In (round) football-speak, it’s like giving Chelsea three goals of a start in the first 45, and hoping to draw level in the second half; realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.
I get Schadenfraude giggles when I see people put their hands up to cover their faces or camera lenses when pursued by news crews. They sometimes mumble, “No comment”, which is semiologically signalling, “Yep, I’m guilty”.
Given the acceleration of fact-free, agenda-driven, opinion-forming, pronouncement-making, speculation-indulging social and news media – and the influential SEO narrative that accompanies it – slow comment in a crisis is becoming the next worst thing to no comment. It can leave you out of the crisis conversation.
As part of L’Oréal’s global corporate governance process, which sees a media review completed every four years, L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand have appointed GroupM agency Wavemaker as its new media agency from 1st October 2021. The review process was overseen by Ebiquity, an independent advisor to manage the process on behalf of L’Oréal Australia and […]
Logo designer BrandCrowd has created its own logo to align with the federal government’s ‘Arm Yourself’ vaccine campaign. Taking inspiration from the iconic World War Two image of Rosie the Riveter, the logo was created by a network of designers. According to BrandCrowd, “with the Australian government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout under increasing scrutiny and accompanying […]
Nova 919 has announced that Jodie Oddy will officially join the station, with The Jodie Oddy Show set to kickstart Nova’s weekends. An Adelaide radio favourite and one of the most enduring and successful female media personalities in SA, Oddy joins Nova with over 13 years breakfast radio experience and is excited to be getting […]
Jacqueline Gonzales [featured image] is the Head of Global Marketing at Squarespace. In this piece, she shares her best pieces of advice for launching a campaign globally. It’s estimated that we see between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. In today’s digital landscape we’re constantly bombarded by so many different brand messages from every […]