Fire chief shows how not to handle TV interview

I just saw the BBC's interview with Dorset & Wiltshire fire chief Ben Ansell about allegations of a toxic culture in the service. It's clear Ansell had prepared - but it's an instructive example of preparation misapplied!

The BBC's Dan Johnson asked Ansell about an email from a former employee blowing the whistle on ...


Fundamentals of crisis communications

I took part in a discussion the other day about how companies should manage their reputation in times of crisis. Here's a summarised version of the three questions posed and the answers I gave.

1. How can a company mitigate its reputational risks? When it comes to business crises, there are three phases of reputation management: preparation, response and recovery. The adage that prevention is better than cure applies well to corporate reputation. But, in my experience, too few ...


Andrew

Andrew thrown under royal carriage in reputation crisis

The latest developments in the Prince Andrew saga have been dramatic. The Palace has stripped him of his Royal titles and says he’ll have to contest the legal case against him as a ‘private citizen’. But two important reputation management points have been largely overlooked. Firstly, many have praised the Queen's decisiveness. Her actions were certainly swift, but ...


Can Facebook’s rebrand salvage its reputation?

I was pleased to be quoted in this week's Management Today - in an article exploring whether Facebook's rebrand to 'Meta' can help the company overcome its deep-seated reputational problems. Of course, there may be other good business reasons why Facebook is rebranding - such as to stake a place in the public consciousness at the forefront of the upcoming metaverse movement. But, as far as the impact on its reputational ...


How to (mis)manage a personal crisis

North Yorkshire Police Commissioner Philip Allott finally quit today in the wake of his inflammatory comments about the tragic case of Sarah Everard, abducted and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. Three big problems stand out for me in the way Allott has (mis)managed his reputation throughout his career crisis of the last two weeks. The first - and most obvious - is his ludicrous ....


Brewer hounded by reputational crisis

Maverick Scottish brewer BrewDog found itself under fire earlier this month as more than 100 ex-employees sent a blistering open letter to its founders – condemning them for fostering a "toxic" culture and wrecking employees’ mental health. The signatories have since grown, now numbering more than 300.

The craft beer firm is no stranger to controversy: it has a habit of ...


Crisis talk at charity conference

I enjoyed talking at Fundraising Intelligence Conference 2021 last week about how to manage your reputation in times of crisis.

Charities, social enterprises, non-profits and public bodies are, of course, just as susceptible to reputational disasters as private companies. The sector was rocked last year by a large-scale ....


Charity in “toxic culture” crisis

I see NCVO – the hundred-year-old charity supporting Britain’s non-profits – has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. With a damning investigation uncovering a deeply “toxic culture” and its board bluntly admitting it’s all true, there are several curious points that strike me from its reputational crisis. The independent investigation was carried out last year, with its findings revealed at that point only to NCVO staff. But it's all come to the fore as the report has just been leaked to charity publication Third Sector, which has run a blistering ...


Law firm in reputational saga

A London law firm has just won £25,000 from High Court action against a client who posted a negative review online - and is seemingly now battling the repercussions. The court found the client's TrustPilot review defamatory, and the firm said it lost business. But how much might it lose now its client management 'technique' has hit national headlines - headlines that will forever come up when anyone searches for ...


“Our product is gonna sell itself”

I do a lot of work with startups and hear a variation of this surprisingly often: “We’ve budgeted very little for marketing because our product’s gonna sell itself.” I’m always taken aback. And it’s signified a complacency that’s ultimately proved commercially fatal every time. Of course, entrepreneurs need bucket loads of vision and self-belief to get a new venture off the ground and keep pushing forward. And, if a product is truly ...


All change for community engagement?

The recently-published white paper – Planning for the Future – sets out the government’s plans to overhaul town planning, with implications for how local councils and property developers will need to consult communities.

There’s a strong emphasis on the need for local authorities “radically and profoundly to re-invent the ambition, depth and breadth with which they engage communities as they consult on Local Plans,” giving them “an earlier ...


Does size really matter?

This article, ‘Thinking Big Matters in Marketing’ by LinkedIn’s Keith Browning, argues the bigger your company is, the more successful it will become … and so on in a virtuous circle. Browning sets out a robust case and attempts to explain it. Big businesses grow faster because their products or services are more available and they're more likely to spring ...


Shocking 114 year crisis denial by New York zoo

I’ve just read this shocking account of how New York's Bronx Zoo exhibited a kidnapped African boy in a monkey cage in 1906 – and spent 114 years denying its wrong doing. It’s a stark example of doing the wrong thing in a crisis – exacerbating reputational damage by denying the undeniable instead of taking responsibility. It’s finally taken the Black Lives Matter movement to prompt ...


“I thought I’d just ignore it”

“I thought I'd just ignore it,” he told me. There are many cases where I’m sure this is absolutely the best policy. Junk mail. A minor insect bite. An insult from someone you don’t care about. But an approach from an investigative BBC journalist isn’t one of them. I was a bit surprised the other day when I first got the call the other day to ...


Mastercard ad

Look at these coronavirus TV ads!

Take a look at this clever compilation of current American TV ads, with brands attempting to show solidarity in a COVID-19 environment. It vividly illustrates how they’re all pretty much the same - down to the exact phrases and even near identical music! I think most are well-intentioned and would be fine on their own. They're seeking to show empathy rather than deliver a hard sell. But, viewed alongside ...


Send-up of PM – with serious point

I’ve just seen this Twitter clip from Matt Lucas, sending up PM Boris Johnson’s last coronavirus directive to the British people. Lucas mimics Johnson well — and, in the space of 17 seconds, hits an important point square on the head. The PM’s first lockdown address, backed by the ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ slogan, deserves credit for being ...


COVID-19: time to change your tune

My last post looked at whether you should cut or continue your marketing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I said some should cut back or stop, while it’s wise for most to press on or increase their marketing. But if you are continuing your marketing, one thing's certain: this can't mean carrying on exactly as before. These are extraordinary times. Everything is being seen through a coronavirus lens — and your focus and message need to ...


Time to axe your marketing?

When tough times hit, marketing is one of the first activities some companies cut. Is that wise? And is it the right thing to do now — to survive the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic? Every company’s situation is different, but I think the answers are ...


Coronavirus crisis communications

Your coronavirus communications – 7 questions to ask yourself

British businesses are quickly waking up to the reality that the coronavirus is no longer just ‘something happening in China’ but about to become a UK crisis, too. Firms are scrambling to put operational measures in place but — judging from conversations I’ve had in recent days — some are struggling with the crisis communications aspects, while they realise it's vital to protect their reputations and maintain confidence during any disruption ...


Brewdog - offensive ad

Boldness of the UnderDog

I see Brewdog’s latest billboard ad — for its alcohol-free beer — has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for being offensive. It wasn’t helped by being outside a primary school. It reminds me of the Scottish brewer’s previous run-in with ...