Tag Archive for Crisis Comms

Heroes and Zeros: managing your brand reputation

Nadia Ahmed who joined Acceleris on work experience

Nadia Ahmed, who joined Acceleris on work experience

Even as someone new to the world of PR, I can recognise the impact PR campaigns can have, whether for better or for worse.

During my two weeks of work experience at Acceleris I have learnt the significance of brands protecting their reputations. There have been lots of examples in the media recently where brands have triumphed in marketing themselves and some at the opposite end of the scale.

Here we take a look at some examples which have sparked criticism from the not-so-adoring public, as well as the championing of some brands for their success.



Neither hopeful nor glorious festival

Hope and Glory PR Disaster Liverpool

The ironically named ‘Hope and Glory Festival’ in Liverpool was cancelled in early August, just as acts were ready to go on stage. The worst part however, is that it was cancelled with one disastrous tweet simply saying, ‘No festival today’. Overcrowding at the 12,500 capacity St George’s Quarter led to the event being scrapped, with thousands of ticket holders left disappointed. Day-ticket holders lost out on both a highly anticipated festival and £55, while those who had bought a weekend ticket and paid out £89 were left confused and angry.

Although some posts on the Facebook page pointed the blame at the production manager, who was even named and shamed, the PR company behind the event were ultimately responsible for dealing with all the publicity and social media for the event. The agency continued to point the blame at anyone but themselves, and the director added fuel to the fire of public outrage when he bungled his interview on talkRadio and only offered to refund the one ticket to a listener who called in. In such a modern, technology dependent era, PR disasters like this spread like wildfire and can easily destroy a company’s reputation. There is no doubt that this event was a disaster and the PR company have been placed at the centre of it.


Social media Mum 1, V&A Museum nil

A breastfeeding mum took to social media after she was asked to ‘cover up’ when she accidentally flashed her nipple whilst breastfeeding at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington. However, the mother did not passively accept this disapproval, and she took to Twitter to express her outrage.

Using her Twitter account the mother tweeted: “Flashed a nanosecond of nipple while #breastfeeding and was asked to cover up in @V_and_A courtyard. Am perplexed…” Then continued with, “On the upside, I had a lovely day at the V&A exploring depictions of breasts through the ages and making lovely mammaries. I mean memories”. Ironically, the incident occurred within World Breastfeeding Week, which works to dispel the sense of disapproval some women feel while breastfeeding in public. Using hashtags such as #normalisebreastfeeding , #empoweredbirthproject and #breastisbest.

The V&A’s director apologised after the tweet went viral, saying “@vaguechera V sorry. Our policy is clear: women may breastfeed wherever they like, wherever they feel comfortable & shld not be disturbed.”

Easy access to social media allows people to share perceived injustices and also allowed the V&A to publicly apologise. Ultimately, it all ended well.


Swede dreams

In a glorious attempt to boost tourism, the organisation Visit Sweden has listed the entire country on Airbnb to try and appeal to young travellers. The Swedish tourist board is trying to encourage and educate people in the concept of Allesmansrätten, or ‘the freedom to roam’.

Allesmansrätten refers to the general public’s right to camp, hike, explore and use the country’s natural resources at will. The campaign boasts that, “Sweden has no Eiffel Towers. No Niagara Falls or Big Bens. Not even a little Sphinx. Sweden has something else- the freedom to roam. This is our monument” conveying that Sweden’s natural landscape is the jewel in its crown and a great reason to visit. The weirdly wonderful campaign promotes the country’s own unique offerings and the Airbnb stunt helped them gain publicity and drive traffic to both Visit Sweden’s and Airbnb’s websites.Visit Sweden Listed on Airbnb

Visit Sweden Listed on Airbnb

Heroes and zeros awards

Each of these events gained recognition across various media channels and one in particular reignited the discussion on the issue of breastfeeding in public. It is becoming increasingly clear how crucial the effectiveness and speed of responses from companies is, in order to prevent the destruction of a certain brand.

For a successful PR campaign which is current, unique and exciting, Visit Sweden has to win my hero award.

As the biggest failure, the Hope and Glory Festival PR catastrophe is doubtlessly the winner of my zero award. Hopefully the lesson of ‘not cancelling a huge event with a three word tweet’ has been learnt.

Here at Acceleris we have a vested interest in the reputations of our clients. We believe it’s not what you say that defines you. It’s what you do and how you do it that creates your reputation. What we do is protect and promote the brands of our clients. To find out more about our work for other clients, take a look at: http://www.acceleris-mc.com/pr-portfolio-case-studies.html

Rule one in the PR handbook 2017 – don’t follow the example of the US’ Press Secretary, Pepsi or United Airlines

The Pepsi ad fiasco of last week paled into insignificance when United Airlines found itself at the eye of a proverbial **** storm this week. Somehow, it even overshadowed the gaffe from Sean Spicer (The White House Press Secretary) who proclaimed, ‘even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons’… In a cost saving gamble, the United Airline’s…

Mayday: Handling social media during a crisis

Alex Whitaker, Senior Account Executive

Alex Whitaker, Senior Account Executive

On 3 August 2016, Emirates Flight 521, a Boeing 777-300, crash landed and caught fire at the airline’s home base and primary hub, Dubai International Airport. Thankfully, all 282 passengers and 18 crew survived the impact with only 14 people requiring hospitalisation for minor injuries (however, an Emirati fireman unfortunately did lose his life). Clearly, the accident presented a crisis for the company.

While an incident involving an aircraft could wreak havoc for an airline’s reputation, Emirates managed to completely preserve theirs. In the immediate 24 hours following the crash, the airline delivered a textbook example of how to respond to a crisis situation.

As with any incident of this ilk played out in the modern arena, the world knew within minutes. Breaking news alerts lit up phones across the world as the incident quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, with many tweets also featuring near-live video of the aircraft ablaze. When anyone with a smartphone (around two billion people[1]) can instantly provide raw footage of an incident to millions of people, companies have to be on perpetual guard – and ready and able to react quickly.

In order to respond appropriately and within an acceptable time frame, organisations need to have a pre-agreed crisis plan in place. Clearly, with Emirates’ first tweet acknowledging the situation being sent only twenty minutes after the incident occurred, this had been done. This first tweet set the tone for the exemplary PR response that followed.

Emirates were quick to make people aware of the incident

Emirates were quick to make people aware of the incident

Over the next 90 minutes, the company pulled off an important balancing act, providing new information quickly and regularly but without taking the risk of tweeting anything unconfirmed. The drip feeding of information in real time as confirmation was received showed the airline was well on top of the situation while also serving to inform the company’s most important stakeholders in the crisis – existing and potential customers. Within two hours of the incident taking place, the company confirmed all passengers and crew were safe.

In the 24 hours following the incident, the airline tweeted 31 times, maintaining a constant reassuring presence to those following its social media channels. The company’s activity in this timeframe handled a series of issues. While the initial incident was over fairly quickly, the airline then had to deal with a long delay to many flights departing from its key hub. Emirates deftly melded these crucial travel updates with messages expressing apologies and reassuring customers it was doing everything it could to resolve a difficult situation.

The airline provided as much information as possible on the crew and passengers

The airline provided as much information as possible on the crew and passengers

During this time, the airline also provided links to full statements (in both English and Arabic), pages with more information on expected delays and to a video of a press conference held by the company’s Chairman. In particular, this video was extremely well received. By putting the most senior figurehead of the company in front of the cameras, the airline showed how seriously they were taking the situation. That the Chairman was clearly well versed in giving statements only served to improve upon the video’s reception.

Emirates quickly called a press conference in both English and Arabic

Emirates quickly called a press conference in both English and Arabic

Many users posted replies to the company’s posts praising their response and highlighting the fact they are not concerned about flying with Emirates in the future – showing the airline’s already strong reputation remains intact.

Emirates’ response embodied the key tenets of crisis management. The company stuck to the mantra of ‘first, fast and frank’ and took control of the situation at an early stage, preventing the spread of any misinformation or unhelpful rumours. It provided timely and useful information on the issue while still showing it genuinely cared. Also, quick responses to customer questions on social media not only directly helped people worried about family members, but showed to the wider public that the company could be relied on.

Handling a crisis as it unfolds is never an easy task. Crises are by nature unpredictable, both in terms of when they first occur and how they may develop as the situation progresses. A pre-agreed crisis plan is a necessity, but companies also need to remain flexible enough to react to whatever may happen during the course of dealing with the situation. At Acceleris, we’re experts in both managing crises and developing robust plans ahead of time. A crisis can hit at any time, in almost any industry, so why not give us a call today to find out how we can help you?

[1] http://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/