Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phone Camera Warning

If you are an HR Manager, a police officer, emergency medical technician, factory foreman, even a doctor or nurse working ER, always be on your best behavior, in addition to doing what you are trained and expected to do.

Phone cameras -- capable of recording both still photographs and moving video – are everywhere. If you “lose your cool” you will very likely show up on the local evening TV newscast at the very least or YouTube forever.
On the other hand if you do something above and beyond the call of duty, you may show up on the same TV newscast and YouTube in a favorable light.

Most often, the phone cameras catch people at their worst.
The police officer that over-reacts to an unruly demonstrator or drunk or mentally unstable person, caught on video swing his/her nightstick or spraying Pepper Spray in their face.

Or, the company representative that encounters demonstrators at the front gate, and after being verbally abused, over-reacts with a shouting spree response, caught on camera by another demonstrator.
I’ve been in some of these kinds of “heated” encounters.  I once was riding in the front seat with a police officer.  He picked up a 15-year-old at a community fair. The boy was obviously from a well-to-do family, but he was “drunker than a skunk” as they used to say where I grew up.

He was scared to death and could not stop talking and crying. The officer ordered him to shut up, but after a short drive, he had more than he could “take” and pulled a “black jack” out of his pocket and started to backhand the young man riding behind him.  I automatically reacted. I stretched both of my arms out and yawned as big as I could, blocking the officer’s arm from striking his prisoner.
Needless to say, he was mad as all get out with me.  But I reminded him about all the paper-work he would face if he had hit the boy and the boy’s family filed charges against him! Besides the police car was equipped with a camera that recorded “inside” as well as “outside.”

Sometimes it is very hard to maintain your composure but you must, and every organization should be teaching and advocating appropriate responses from all executives, managers and staff/employees.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Social Media: A Crisis Waiting To Hit

Do NOT ignore social media!

Not only are the various social media great tools for reaching OUT to your employees, customers/clients/patients/students, financial supporters, suppliers, and others, those same social media can be used to launch an attack on your reputation, your service, product, mission, integrity, business, organization – and if you are not on guard and ready to react immediately, you will lose before you even get started.
A just released Ipsos Mori Reputation Council’s 2011 report found that only 59-percent of communications directors say they regularly pay attention to their company’s brand on social media channels. 

That’s down from 73-percent in 2010.
Perhaps, just as shocking in today’s communications environment: when asked to what extent they actively engage with stakeholders through social media, 41-percent responded “not very much.”

The old axiom about maintaining a relationship with the conventional media, is just as applicable to the social media.  When an organization is faced with a public crisis, you can respond and recover quicker if you already have a relationship with the key media that cover you.
The principle is built on the idea that reporters who know you, even a little bit, are more inclined to give you a break, or at least consider your “point of view,” than reporters who don’t know you and don’t care about you.

 If you don’t have a company presence using social media channels, and suddenly you are in crisis and “show up” you are starting from a much deeper hole that you have to climb out of.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Prevent Crises Or Live With Them For A Long Time

Planning and training to manage a business crisis IS important, but working to PREVENT crises is even more important and certainly more cost effective.

An example:  The Toyota “unintended acceleration” crisis. It was a smoldering crisis, with  unmistakable signs of a problem developing for Toyota, but ignored or unrecognized for months, if not more than a year.
There had been repeated indications of a problem with stuck accelerators and floor mats for more than a year before the first head-line grabbing deaths of a California police officer and his family.

There have been estimates that as many as 100 people died in Toyotas with accelerator problems.
So why am I bringing that up again nearly two years after the public became aware of the problem?

BECAUSE, this story is coming back to the top of the business pages of news outlets around the world, with the scheduling of the first wrongful death lawsuit trial in February of 2013.  This trial is about the deaths of a Utah couple, killed when their Toyota slammed into a wall almost two years ago.
There are hundreds of other similar lawsuits waiting to go to trial.  And, with the first one still more than a year away, Toyota will have to wait a lot longer before they can really put this crisis behind them.

Remember, our research repeatedly concludes that nearly two-thirds of all business crises are what we call smoldering crises.  They start out small, and if someone is paying attention, they can be spotted and fixed before they ever grow to public crisis status.
That was certainly possible in the Toyota accelerator case, just like it was with the Firestone ATX tire debacle in the 90’s, before it became a public nightmare for Firestone/Bridgestone in February of 2000.

Plan, train and prevent!