Crises are an inevitable part of PR. To prepare for the unforeseen crisis headed your way, our Weekly Rewind examines some recent PR nightmare and what we can learn from them.
Walmart’s Financial Stumble
When it comes to releasing good news and bad news, PR pros should consider releasing bad news first and allowing the good news to soften it later. Walmart recently announced it will be raising starting pay for employees to $11 and offering ten weeks of paternal leave. This received positive feedback until hours later when it was revealed that Walmart would also be closing 63 of its Sam’s Club wholesale stores across the country.
Mistake: They completely underestimated how fast the news would travel about the store closures, and their wage announcement was overshadowed, according to CNN Money. This could have been a great PR day for Walmart, but because they chose to announce the pay raises first and tried to sweep the closures under the rug, they ended up losing all that positive coverage.
Starbucks Social Media Hoax
Starbucks was forced to close an Atlanta, Georgia location after a fake social media post of an employee describing doing horrible things to customers’ drinks went viral. Despite corporate emphatically denying they have or had ever had anyone employed by this fake employee’s name, the damage was done.
PR Daily says the best way to handle hoaxes is to lay the groundwork for trust and transparency. If your organization is known for secrecy and misdirection, it will be impossible to convince the public that your message is honest and that social media scammers and agenda-driven trolls are lying.
Weathering the Storm
A few brands come to mind when thinking of the biggest PR Losers in 2017: Uber, United and Pepsi. However, Fortune suggests that even though these brands seemed to be burning to the ground at the time of the crisis, months later they seem to be performing much better. Outrage is hard to maintain, especially when there seems to be a new crisis for another brand every week.
However, the real success story comes from their competitors. Lyft and Southwest found a wealth of achievement appealing to disgruntled customers in the wake of their rivals’ PR disasters. Lyft was the top ride sharing service during an Uber boycott and Southwest made headlines by ending overbooking, which was the center of United’s crisis. If your brand’s competitor is the one having the crisis, try to find a way to capitalize on it.