Lessons to Learn from the Crises in the Media this Summer

The summer often gets called silly season for all the frivolous stories in the media but this year it’s been different. While the Brexit vote has been overshadowing much of the news, there’s also been a number of crisis stories taking over the business pages and nowadays that often means they make the front pages too.


The closure of BHS has been a story for a while but in June, Sir Philip Green faced a select committee where he came under some intense questioning. The story came back again as all the stores shut down but it was an interview by Sky News as Green left his (rather large) yacht that shone the spotlight back on the former BHS boss. Watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKmO0-NrBQ4 It even led PRWeek to claim this was their PR flop of the week. Attention has continued to focus on the yacht which had a new sign saying ‘BHS Destroyer’ attached to the side by comedian Lee Nelson, who said; “Good of Sir Philip Green to rename his £100million yacht to something more appropriate. I was glad to help”. Read the full story here: http://metro.co.uk/2016/09/07/philip-greens-super-yacht-renamed-the-bhs-destroyer-6113638/


So what can we learn from this? The key lesson is to engage with the media, as if you try and hide they will come after you for answers, whether you’re ready for them or not. Of course in this case the other lesson is to make sure you don’t, aggressively, lose your cool with a journalist on camera, as this is guaranteed to make particularly negative headlines for you.


Sports Direct and what they pay staff is another story that’s rumbled on for a while, and when the CEO pulled out a big wad of £50 notes, during a journalists’ tour of their headquarters, it was bound to make headlines. Read the full story here: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ive-been-to-the-casino-sports-direct-boss-mike-ashley-pulls-out-wad-of-50-notes-on-tour-of-companys-a3339366.html


A lesson to learn from this is to make sure you’ve thought about how you present yourself to journalists, in advance of meeting them – having wads of cash on show, during a pay dispute is clearly a bad idea, and one that the media won’t forget for a while.


Samsung was hit by an unexpected and serious crisis when some consumers reported their Galaxy Note 7 phones were overheating and even catching fire and melting. This is the kind of crisis that would keep any PR person up at night with worry, but the executives at Samsung, at a fairly early stage, were already being applauded with the way they’re handling the situation. They must have had crisis training as they took the strong decision to make the news public, keep customers informed and then recall the smartphones. This will be expensive for them and will probably hit their profits for this year, but if they’re lucky they will still have a reputation intact for next year, unlike many other companies who tried other less successful methods to deal with their problem.


So if there is a ‘text book plan to deal with a crisis’ it would likely be (to use a quote from Alastair Campbell during a BlackBerry crisis), this; explain while you fix it, apologise when you have and recompense afterwards.


Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.com – September 2016 


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