Category Archives: crisis communication

Data Breach Crisis Management for Kmart

You didn’t really think we’d get through a full week without a data breach story, did you?

Yesterday saw Sears Holdings Corp. announce a data breach at its Kmart stores with the statement below, posted to the Kmart website:

KMart data breach announcement

Did you spot the element that was missing from this message? If you were wondering where the compassion was, you were right on the money. As with nearly every other data breach announcement we’ve seen, this one completely fails to acknowledge the fact that these situations leave shoppers feeling concerned and uneasy.

Showing compassion is one of the premiere ways to get stakeholders to really listen, and should be included in every single piece of communication that comes out while you’re conducting crisis management. You can skate by without it sometimes, but why ignore such an effective tool that costs you nothing but a few extra words?

The BCM Blogging Team

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Crisis Management Quotables…on Delivering Your Message

Present a clear message when communicating in crisis

I came across a quote from artist Hans Hoffman on the Mr. Media Training blog and thought it would make for a particularly interesting Crisis Management Quotable. You see, when Hoffman shared the thought below, he wasn’t speaking about verbal or written communications, but rather abstract art, which he believed was a way to “get at the important reality”, yet it applies to what we do just as well.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman

This applies to all communications, and especially crisis communications, where you are trying to cement key facts in stakeholder’s minds. Plot out your key points and hammer them in, avoiding the temptation to elaborate unnecessarily, and deflecting attempts from outsiders to derail your efforts. It’s not easy, but when you get it right your crisis management becomes immensely more effective.

Erik Bernstein

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Ferguson Chief’s Crisis Management Comes Late

Is this a sign of hope for resolution, or just smooth PR?

The handling of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri has been characterized by poor communication, over-reaction, and the creation of an “us vs. them” attitude. Today, in a move that comes far too late but also sparks hope of a resolution to come, Ferguson’s chief of police released a video of him finally doing what he should have done nearly seven weeks ago.

Have a look:

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson’s Urgent Announcement from Devin James Group on Vimeo.

Chief Tom Jackson clearly had some crisis management coaching before the taping of this statement, and he really hit his marks. He’s shed the police uniform, appearing in everyday dress, and his speech nails all of our Three C’s of Credibility – confidence, competence, and compassion. This move comes incredibly late in the game, but it could signal that the Ferguson police department is ready and willing do put in the work that will eventually allow them to move past this tragic situation.

Of course, words only do so much. It will be action that determines the future reputation of the force and its relationship with the citizens it is sworn to protect and service.

The BCM Blogging Team

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NFL’s Old-School Crisis Management Doesn’t Cut It

It’s time to break the cycle of crisis

As you’re certainly aware, the NFL is once again in desperate need of crisis management as a result of not only Ray Rice, but also the league’s handling of his entire situation.  Many, especially the women who make up an estimated 45% of the NFL’s fanbase, are seriously questioning whether they can continue to support an organization with a culture of coverups, dishonesty, and violence that appears increasingly to not be contained to the field.

In an emotional segment, ESPN’s Hannah Storm summed up the conversations taking the place of the usual Sunday smacktalk and stat debates in many football-loving families around the country:

The NFL needs wake up, look around, and step out of the old school crisis management mentality that’s left fans feeling like they might need to find a new sport and major sponsors reconsidering next year’s ad spend. Proctor & Gamble has already pulled out of a major event sponsorship, and reports say others are waiting to see how the next few days pan out.

Bottom line is, everyone in a position of power within the NFL needs a lesson in how crisis management is done in 2014, or the cycle of crisis will continue to repeat itself.

Mainstream sports have traditionally been able to ignore proper crisis management because of their enormous popularity, but in today’s world the power of perception and reputation is greater than ever before, and brands have more tools to accurately track these once-nebulous factors as well. Will this one incident put the NFL on the sidelines? Absolutely not. But, could a persistence of this same damaging culture, and a failure to handle the inevitable future incidents well, eventually take big money away from the league? Well, it’s already happening.

The BCM Blogging Team

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Crisis Management Quotables…on Why You Don’t Cover-Up

Sweeping ugly truths under the rug will come back to haunt you down the road

Last week we talked about the ability of battlefield generals to do crisis management, but this week Quill and Pen Crisis Management Quotables - smallwe’re looking at another type of leader. Politicians might not be making decisions under direct fire, but they’re certainly coping with immense pressure and stress from every angle while making important decisions that they can, and these days will, be held accountable for. Tom Petri (R-Wi.) has spent more than 40 years in high-level politics, which we believe qualifies him to deliver this week’s Crisis Management Quotable:

“It isn’t the original scandal that gets people in the most trouble – it’s the attempted cover-up.” — Tom Petri

Whether we’re talking Watergate or a kid lying about doing their homework, the result of an attempted cover-up is the same in the end – far more more trouble, more stress, and often more financial loss, than would have been encountered by simply coming clean.

Is it difficult? No doubt. Will it save you a lot of time, trouble, and ruined reputation to ‘fess up? Absolutely.

Erik Bernstein
Social Media Manager

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