Tag Archive: BP


“Being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born” – Senator Elizabeth Warren

What is the definition of a story with “legs” (No pun intended)?

From a public relations standpoint, it’s a negative story that can’t or will not be stopped.

BP couldn’t contain the gushing oil into the gulf.

British Petroleum or BP is eternally synonymous with “The Spill.”

Hillary was unable to stymie the drip-drip of the 2015/2016 home server/emails scandal?

Madam Secretary is now a distinguished private citizen with yet another book to sell (Look for it on your Walmart discount rack in about six-months).

And then there is the Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Massachusetts) self-inflicted wound about whether she has Cherokee blood somewhere, somehow, anywhere on the maternal side of her family.

President Trump lovingly labels her, “Pocahontas,” clearly getting under the skin of the honorable senator from Massachusetts, once taunting her to take a DNA test to clarify her ancestry.

And yes, she took the Stanford University test and the results indicated she was at best 1/64th Native American and no worse than 1/1024th Native American. There may be (or not) a smidgen of Cherokee Nation in her blood line, which originated somewhere between 150 and 250 years ago.

The Cherokee Nation was not impressed.

From assessing the reaction from the Washington D.C. Punditocracy (95.2 million Google results in 0.33 second), Almost DailyBrett must ask: Why Senator Warren is egging on a story that should simply die a quiet death?

Is there some crisis communication wisdom that lies beneath the surface?

Crisis Communications Time and Place Rule

Trump challenged Warren to prove she was a “person of color” by taking a DNA test.

The senator responded by submitting to the much criticized blood exam. The real question is whether the almost certain Democratic candidate for president made a terminal move against her interest in becoming POTUS #46?

Maybe? Maybe not?

What are the four tenets for Crisis Communication: Tell the Truth. Tell It Quickly. Tell It All. Move On.

We can argue whether Warren is telling the truth, let alone telling it all.

We can agree that she is telling it (relatively) quickly and trying to move on (if she can).

Consider the calendar. A few days after the most likely inconclusive No Blue Wave (e.g., Dems may take the house, Republicans remain in control of the Senate) November 6 midterms, the pundits will quickly shift focus to the 2020 presidential cycle.

When a candidate has bad news to bury, when is the best time to exorcise this demon?  Your author counsels at a time and place of your choosing.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote three years ago, the failure of candidate George W. Bush to address his 1976 DUI arrest at a time and place of his choosing well before the 2000 presidential election cycle almost cost him the presidency.

The DUI was shockingly revealed just five days before election day. It was “breaking” news.

Senator Warren well knows that her Massachusetts colleague, John Kerry, was “Swift Boated” by Bush in the latter weeks of the tight 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry never recovered.

Perhaps Warren is dealing with the Cherokee Nation issue now, making “old news” of an anticipated attack line in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary season. You can envision her crossing her eyes when this ancient issue is brought up.

Undoubtedly Trump will charmingly continue to label her, “Pocahontas.” She in turn will have a few choice rejoinders for him.

For Warren she is hoping the “Native American” issue becomes “old news” in 2020, dispensed with glaring headlines/cartoons/jokes about a controversial DNA test … way back in 2018.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/18/just-about-everything-youve-read-warren-dna-test-is-wrong/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c1ca6028cbc4

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/us/politics/elizabeth-warren-dna-test.html

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tammy-bruce-elizabeth-warren-and-her-little-dna-story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2PAVv5so2s

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/how-one-dui-in-1976-led-to-hanging-chads-in-2000/

 

 

 

 

This is an upsetting event for all of us at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” –PR Week’s “Communicator of the Year,” United CEO Oscar Munoz

Do you really think so, Oscar?

Last Sunday morning, United Continental Holdings, Inc., or more commonly known as United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) positioned its brand as a global airline with the tagline “The Friendly Skies” and backed by the music of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

By Sunday evening the airline’s brand was radically changed, maybe even permanently altered, by what happened on a commuter flight (United Express #3411) from Chicago’s horrible O’Hare Airport to the home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville.

Note that horses are treated better than United’s overbooked passengers, one in particular.

Almost DailyBrett has researched and written extensively about the loss of branding control. With social media and easy-to-use and outstanding-quality smart-phone cameras and recorders, everybody is a potential reporter, even one sitting in an aisle seat on United.

Just as BP is no longer seen as an oil and gas company, but rather one that caused the massive Deepwater Horizon “spill,” United is now linked to inexplicable violence against one of its own paying customers, whose only crime was wanting to fly home to treat his patients.

The inexcusable exercise of violence and brutality against a 69-year-old Vietnamese refugee, Dr. David Dao, including losing two front teeth, sustaining a concussion, and suffering a broken nose — all because he committed the cardinal sin of refusing to leave a seat he purchased on an overbooked flight to accommodate a United employee — is now a viral social and legacy media legend.

Most likely, this horror video could also be the topic of a heavily covered jury trial (United will try to avoid this scenario at all costs by attempting to settle out of court), and possibly a congressional investigation (United probably will have to respond to a subpoena). There is very little chance United could prevail before any jury regardless of venue.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly told students at Central Washington University that company, non-profit, agency, government, politician brands are now “traded” on social media and blogging exchanges every second of every day.

These brands can soar (e.g., Tesla and Elon Musk) on glowing reports (and company common stock usually moves in tandem). They can also plunge into binary code oblivion triggered by a game-changing incident (i.e., Chipotle and E. coli; Volkswagen and “defeat software”; Wells Fargo, phony accounts; Anthony Weiner and his tweeted wiener).

So far, United investors and employees have lost an estimated $1.5 billion in market capitalization on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On the social media stock exchange, the company has lost even more as millions around the world are shocked and appalled by about 60 seconds of gratitous violence video.

In China as well as other countries in East Asia that serve as United destinations, the bloody treatment of Dr. Dao is seen as a racist act. Is United racist? The answer really doesn’t matter when the perception in the Asian community (and other ethnic communities) is that United perpetrated a racially motivated attack.

Does PR Week rescind Oscar Munoz’ “Communicator of the Year” Award just as the Heisman Trust recalled the famous statue from Reggie Bush? The call seems easy.

What’s Next For United?

“I think corporate America needs to understand that we all want to be treated in the same manner with the same respect and the same dignity that they would treat their own family members. If they do that, wouldn’t it be great? So, will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, probably.” — Attorney Thomas Demetrio

United knows as evidenced by the live coverage of today’s Chicago news conference by Dr. Dao’s lawyers on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business and others, this story has “legs.” Just as BP found that out every day the Deepwater Horizon well was leaking, United will also realize this public relations nightmare will endure for weeks and months.

So what should United’s PR team do in the interim?

  1. The “service” company needs to dramatically alter its way of doing business. Literally thousands upon thousands are justifiably angry at United and other carriers for their well-documented and long-endured arrogance and disregard for their customers, the passengers.
  2. United needs to forever foreswear the use of violence on its aircraft except in the rare circumstances in which a passenger is a threat to themselves or others.
  3. The days of “overbooked flights” need to come to an end. If someone buys a ticket to a football game that person is entitled to that seat on the 30-yard line. If a passenger buys a ticket for a plane that passenger is entitled to seat 9C.
  4. The airlines need to enshrine this simple notion as a new policy and champion it. If they don’t, one suspects that Congress will do exactly that. Don’t try to lobby against this change. Be a part of the solution.
  5. Be nice. United, American and Delta – the so-called legacy carriers – need to shed their well-earned image of being rude, arrogant, un-empathetic and uncaring. For once an attorney is right: We all deserve respect and dignity.
  6. The lawyers will have a field day, starting with the discovery process. Sell-side analysts will downgrade the stock. Congressional committees will beat up Oscar Munoz. For United’s PR team, this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.
  7. Time can heal. Keep in mind, United’s brand will never be the same and will literally take years to turn the corner. One suspects United will somehow move forward. A little humility and the willingness to admit wrong, to learn and become change agents on behalf of customers and not just the bottom line, may one day lead to a better tomorrow.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/04/12/united-ceo-oscar-munoz-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-communicator-of-the-year/?utm_term=.c0660d2cfa9b&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/loss-of-control-how-to-safeguard-reputations-and-brands-in-a-digital-world/

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/attorney-for-united-airlines-passenger-dao-says-there-will-probably-be-a-lawsuit.html

 

 

 

 

… and again, again, and again …

Why is it that some of the best and the brightest just don’t get it when it comes to personal public relations?

There will always be bad days.

And with these bad days are the prospects of worse days in the future.

Was Yogi Berra referring to Brian Williams, John Kitzhaber, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, George W. Bush, Tiger Woods …?

Almost DailyBrett seriously doubts that Yogi recognizes the name, John Kitzhaber, let alone his now-infamous girlfriend, and the state in which he until recently served as its governor.kitzhaberhayes

Having extended our due respect to Yogi, let’s contemplate another famous Berra-ism: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On …

The four principles of crisis communications live on, beginning with what mumsys all across the fruited plain have told daughters and sons: “Always tell the truth.”

These four principles or steps in quick order – Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On — also translate into another adage: Manage or be managed.

  • Brian Williams with his propensity for self-aggrandizement and exaggeration (e.g., starving at the well-stocked Ritz Carlton in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) could not or would not recognize the danger signals of his own behavior. Williams became the story (a no-no for any reporter), lost control of this tale and eventually his NBC anchor desk, his position and quite possibly his career as we know it.williamsnbc
  • John Kitzhaber was starting his fourth term as the governor of Almost DailyBrett’s adopted, Oregon. His arrogance mounted over time, including his heavy-handed sacking of the president of the University of Oregon, Richard Lariviere. The ultimate downfall for Kitzhaber pertained to Oregon’s “First Lady” (the governor’s squeeze), her high-salary non-profit job, influence peddling and the governor’s refusal to acknowledge an obvious conflict of interest until it was too late. Yep he had the opportunity to manage, but in the end he was managed and with it he became a poster child for term limits.
  • Anthony Weiner attempted to bluff his way out of the mounting evidence of his “selfies” being sent to designated females from Seattle to New York.
  • John Edwards cheated on his dying wife with his videographer, and stonewalled the media about his love child, Frances, until he was caught by none other than the National Enquirer.
  • George W. Bush had the opportunity to reveal his 1976 DUI arrest in Kennebunkport, Maine (manage), but chose to keep it under wraps until the story exploded four days before the 2000 election (managed).
  • Tiger Woods repeatedly pleaded for familial privacy as TMZ kept listing the names and details of even more women that had affairs with the world’s number one golfer. Woods was managed by the media and his career has never been the same.

Who’s Next?

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” – Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley

“Who’s Next” is the question posed by Pete Townshend in 1971, but in this case it applies to who or what organization is going to fail to recognize the crisis communication warning signs, eventually losing control of an issue, and then being subjected to a seemingly never-ending story with “legs.”

For BP and its Deepwater Horizon oil platform, the media coverage of the 2009 catastrophic spill that immediately killed 11 workers lasted for more than three months. The multi-billion litigation and the permanent damage to the BP brand continues to this day. “BP” and “Spill” are synonymous terms.oilspillbird

For far too many in the reputation business, crisis communications is simply, response. Certainly, there is a response component to crisis communications, but just as important are the words, prevention and management.

Samsung could have prevented or at least blunted the effect of the movie producer Michael Bay meltdown at the Consumer Electronics Show by practicing how to respond to a faulty teleprompter.

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol team managed the discovery of cyanide–laced capsules and provided a text-book example of management that not only saved the brand, but restored public confidence in pharmaceutical industry and generated an entirely new regime of safety packaging.

There is no doubt that we will soon be reading, commenting, tweeting, trolling, memeing about some preventable human or institutional failing as it applies to legal tender, sexual dalliances or personal aggrandizement that could have been prevented or at least managed.

Instead, the story takes off and spins out of control. Eventually the digital ones and zeroes go critical and the reactor core starts to melt down. The monster grows legs and runs for days, weeks, months …

What did mumsy say about telling the truth?

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/y/yogi_berra.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/12/the_rise_and_fall_of_richard_l.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/loma-prieta/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/damn-the-teleprompters/

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meme

 

 

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