The top two global sportswear brands – Adidas and Nike – have both taken a reputational hit from scandalous comments and social media posts by high-profile celebrity partners. The circumstances were parallel, but the way each company responded to its crisis had profound implications for damage limitation. An analysis of the coverage data reveals some important lessons for communicators everywhere about the interaction between corporate culture and the effectiveness of crisis response.
The headaches for Adidas came from Ye (Kanye West) who criticised the brand and went on to make anti-semitic comments in the media that caused social media uproar. Adidas eventually cancelled its partnership with Ye, but only after weeks of speculation during which time more than 4,000 articles were published, according to data from Newswhip. These articles drove millions of engagements, many of which criticized Adidas for not acting more decisively.
Meanwhile Nike was much quicker to sever...
Photographs and video from a set-piece protocol or media event can magnify its impact on public perceptions and on the reputation of institutions and VIPs. It is in everyone’s interests that photo opportunities are stage managed to facilitate the best quality images.
Media often complain that they have to fight to get what they need to make good images. Great public relations and protocol services treat media as customers. The following guidance explains how to help photographers and videographers to get the best pictures.
Timing is usually tight: VIPs may have only seconds or minutes available. A very brief shoot is sometimes all that is possible. Where appropriate, advise VIPs to schedule at least 2-3 minutes. Extra time lets media optimise settings and take more frames and angles, which increases the quality of their best shot. Larger groups (e.g. a G20 heads of state group shot) require more time because photographers must capture hundreds of frames to get a few in which...
The Brent Spar episode proved that it is not enough for a company to be in the right, if it also fails also to engage with stakeholders and convince the media. It showed that even a major multinational can be defeated by hostile public opinion. Shell lost the PR battle, and then lost the regulatory battle as a result.
The North Sea contains over 350 drilling rigs and oil production platforms. They are very large and contain some level of contamination from oil exploration and production. After a period of service they become obsolete or unsafe and need to be disposed of.
One such platform was Brent Spar, a 14,000 ton, 200-metre high platform which by 1995 was no longer usable. Its part-owner Shell spent three years and millions of pounds on research and environmental modelling which concluded (correctly) that the least damaging option was to tow Brent Spar to a very deep area of the North Sea and sink it. This would cause minimal environmental harm -- as opposed to...
On February 13, 2023, three students were killed and five others injured in a mass shooting on the campus of Michigan State University. The gunman, 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae, shot himself dead when he was confronted by police.
In the aftermath of the shootings, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee decided to send a consoling email to students using the following text:
We must recognize that creating a safe and inclusive environment is an ongoing process that requires ongoing effort and commitment. We must continue to engage in conversations about how we can do better, learn from our mistakes, and work together to build a stronger, more inclusive community. One of the key ways to promote a culture of care on our campus is through building strong relationships with one another. This involves actively engaging with people from different backgrounds and perspectives, listening to their stories, and showing empathy and support.
At the bottom of the message, in small print, the email...
Some of the best communication campaigns are those where the company creates and gives away something genuinely useful, and has the courage not to spoil it with commercial messaging. A great example popped up as an Instagram ad recently.
Onstar is the connected technology platform installed in newer General Motors vehicles, which among other things can connect a driver remotely to a human advisor to coordinate with emergency services in the event of a crash.
In this campaign, they partnered with a centre that uses art therapy to help people process and heal from trauma from road accidents. We hear the therapist talking about trauma, and we watch people who have been affected by crashes as they explore how creative expression can mend psychological wounds. It's nicely shot with a gentle touch.
The deeper message from Onstar is that their technology gives their customers peace of mind: that they will get help if they're involved in a crash. Beautifully though — that message is...