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 ...


Quoted in Fortune on how to combat employee attacks

I'm pleased to have been quoted by Fortune magazine today on how companies should manage their reputations in the face of attacks from former employees - an article sparked by Prince Harry's allegations against the Royal Family in his new autobiography, Spare!

The Fortune piece says: "Workers often feel too afraid of repercussions to speak out while ...


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 ...


Crisis communications for care home charity

We’ve been providing crisis communications support for The Fremantle Trust, a charity providing support for older people and adults with learning disabilities.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had carried out an inspection of one of its care homes, which highlighted significant failings. With nine other care homes in operation plus a number of additional services supporting more than a thousand people, it was vital for the Trust to defend its reputation. Publication of the CQC report was looming and ...


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 ...


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 ...


Crisis advice for firm hit by Government probe

We’ve just delivered crisis support for a company facing the risk of reputational fallout following an HMRC audit of its business. At the end of a three-year investigation, HMRC this month decided the firm had infringed the technicalities of minimum wage rules. The company commissioned us for crisis communications advice to help it ...


Dead in 48 hours — how quickly a crisis can kill your business

We’ve just advised a company in a case that shows how fast you sometimes need to act to address a reputational crisis – and the devastation that can follow if you don’t. I won’t name the company so as not to pile on more misery, but this was a relatively new leisure firm running a UK-wide roadshow of family events. Problems arose when it had to cancel ...


83% of companies hit by crises last year – and most struggle with speed

A new study of 400 PR professionals has highlighted how often reputational crises hit organisations - despite what many would like to believe - and how speed of response is an increasingly difficult challenge. On the positive side, the research ....