Why are there so few examples of great crisis management?

When I ask most audiences to name a company that did a great job managing a crisis, most people (in Canada, anyway) say the name of one company: Maple Leaf Foods. I agree. They did a great job. But the real question is this...Why are there so few examples of excellent crisis management and so many instances of companies doing the wrong thing? The answer, in part, is human nature. That, and a lack of prep and planning.

Media training is the blind spot

Media training is the blind spot

Executives and entrepreneurs dedicate their lives to self improvement. They vie for the most prestigious schools. Many pursue post-graduate studies. They go on retreats, read books, listen to podcasts, attend conferences, do cleanses, meditate, do yoga, try intermittent fasting. They’re constantly on the lookout for a hack. An edge. Something that will make them smarter, more agile, better prepared, more successful.

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You can't rewrite yesterday's headlines

You can't rewrite yesterday's headlines

Interview regret…

It’s that nagging feeling, right after you’ve given a media interview, that you didn’t quite nail it. That you could have done a better job.

If only I had answered that one question differently. Did I say ‘um’ too many times? Could they see that I was sweating? They’re not going to put that last thing I said in the story, are they? If they do, our competitors are going to have a field day with it. What’s my boss going to say?

Cue anxiety. Self doubt. Interview regret.

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A media relations primer for Anthony Scaramucci

A media relations primer for Anthony Scaramucci

Apparently the new White House Communications Director doesn't understand how journalism works. Here's a quick primer:

  • If you're talking to a reporter, that's an interview.
  • Anything you say during an interview can be used by the reporter (unless you clarify and agree in advance that something is either 'background' or 'off the...
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Why media relations is a must-have skill for today's municipal leaders

Why media relations is a must-have skill for today's municipal leaders

Municipal leaders, particularly mayors, have been in the headlines in Canada this past few years for a wide variety of reasons - some positive and others, well, not so much. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has to take the prize for the sheer amount of media coverage, but virtually all of that media coverage was negative. Michael Applebaum resigned as ...

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Are Rob Ford's talking points working?

Are Rob Ford's talking points working?

Rob Ford and his brother Doug launched an ambitious media blitz last week to hit back at critics. But how effective was their strategy? I had a chance to chat with Elissa Freeman of Canada.com a few days ago to give her my two cents about Rob Ford's PR strategy (or lack thereof). Other PR folks who weighed in with their opinions were Jodi Echakowitz of Echo Communications and Diana Conconi

You can read the article here. Thanks to Elissa and Canada.com for asking me to participate. 

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Rob Ford beats Obamacare, Fukushima and Lady Gaga for news searches

Rob Ford beats Obamacare, Fukushima and Lady Gaga for news searches

Thanks to the six-month long Crackgate scandal and the ensuing media coverage Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is one of the most recognizable people in the world. Ford has become a running segment on The Daily Show. He's been ridiculed by David Letterman, Jay Leno, the Jimmies (Kimmel and Fallon), Howard Stern and Saturday Night Live. It seems like the whole world is talking about Toronto's mayor. But is there an objective way to see how big the Rob Ford story really is?

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How big is the Rob Ford story? Let's ask Google Trends

How big is the Rob Ford story? Let's ask Google Trends

Mayor Rob Ford is (once again) dominating news headlines after Toronto Police announced they have a copy of the infamous cellphone video from last May. But just how big is the Rob Ford story? To give you an idea, here's a Google Trends comparison of worldwide news search volumes over the past 30 days. To put the media attention around the Rob Ford story in context, I wanted to compare search volumes around other big names in the news this month...

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Stonewalling the media only delays the inevitable

Stonewalling the media only delays the inevitable

 A little over five months. In the end, that's how much time Toronto Mayor was able to buy himself by stonewalling the media when faced with accusations of appearing in a video smoking a crack pipe. 

Ford was swarmed relentlessly by the media for weeks last spring. At his home. At his office. At official events. His response was to ignore their questions. His most fulsome statement, made on May 24, 2013, one week after the allegations first surfaced, included the following quote: "Number one, there's no video, so that's all I can say. I can't comment on something that doesn't exist." 

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Burkhardt's poor media relations skills making bad situation worse

Burkhardt's poor media relations skills making bad situation worse

It's been nearly a month since the deadly train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which claimed the lives of 47 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Several days after the deadly derailment occurred, Edward Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the train company involved in the crash, held an impromptu press conference in the town. Burkhardt was widely criticized by communicators, the media and the public for what appeared to be a completely tone deaf and insensitive response to the unfolding crisis. So when the CBC interviewed Burkhardt on July 31, listeners might have assumed the railway executive would have undergone extensive media training and that he be able to demonstrate some level of sympathy, regret and a commitment to get to the bottom of what caused the disaster to help prevent something like this from happening in the future. 

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Quebec mayor by day, kitten killer by night

Quebec mayor by day, kitten killer by night

What is the deal with Canada's mayors? There's the crack video allegations swirling about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The resignation of Laval Mayor Alexandre Duplessis after being linked to a sex scandal. (Oh, and Mr. Duplessis was appointed after Laval's former mayor was forced out of office because of corruption allegations). Then there's the resignation of Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, who faces charges involving fraud, conspiracy and corruption... 

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You can run, but you can't hide (from reporters)

You can run, but you can't hide (from reporters)

You've been ignoring their calls and interview requests for two days, but here they are, a throng of reporters, in person, demanding your company's side of the story.They're shouting questions at you, following you as you walk down the street. You can feel the giant TV camera lenses focused on you. The bright lights are searing your retinas. Your heart feels like it's in your throat. Your mind is racing as you search your memory banks for the right thing to do or say -- but to no avail. You feel like a caged animal. Your 'fight or flight' instinct kicks in. You need to make a split second decision:

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Three steps to better media pitches

Three steps to better media pitches

The Internet has brought the world many wonderful things: the ability to instantly share a photo of your dinner with everyone you know, viral cat videos and never-ending news about celebrity antics. One downside? Way too much information. Now, imagine being a reporter...

 

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Media relations is like a BBQ

Media relations is like a BBQ

Who doesn't love a good barbecue? The sizzle and smoke-infused goodness of your favorite meat on the grill. The tantalizing texture and flavor of grilled peppers, onions and buttered asparagus. And, of course, the palpable anticipation of family and friends as they await a meal, expertly cooked under the open sky. Few summer activities can rival the awesomeness of a barbecue that goes according to plan. But you might be surprised at how often things don't go according to plan...

 

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Preventing the on-air F-bomb

Preventing the on-air F-bomb

Fox reporter Lindsay Nadrich isn't having the best week. Nadrich, a TV journalist in Spokane, Washington, recently did a segment about picking strawberries in the rain. What the viewers at home saw was the reporter speaking on camera, stumbling over a few words and then making light of the flub by dropping a few f-bombs...

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A lesson in how not to handle a crisis

A lesson in how not to handle a crisis

She was once the queen of greased up, fat-friendly, calorific Southern cooking on the Food Network. But after a bizarre few days that included an admission she once used horribly racist language  and ended with her blowing off a previously scheduled, heavily promoted Today Show interview , Ms. Deen has been unceremoniously booted from her throne as food television royalty. There are a few lessons observers can take away from the way Ms. Deen and her representatives handled this mess... 

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