Tag Archive: Four Tenets of Crisis Communications


“I must be a mushroom because everyone keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit.” – Urban Dictionary

The rocket scientists at General Motors made the decision to close five factories in the United States and Canada, impacting 14,000 workers/15 percent of salaried employees. Meanwhile the GM truck production lines would keep on humming … in Mexico and China.

GM tenderly issued a Monday news results about these Ohio, Michigan and Maryland facilities/people … saying they will be unallocated in 2019.” 

Unallocated?

Hard to believe that any PR pro worth his or her salt could actually write these words, and with a straight face actually advocate for their approval with management.

Almost DailyBrett concurs with CBS Money Watch in its designation of “unallocated” as one of the worst corporate euphemisms ever employed, if not the absolute worst.

No one is laughing, General Motors.

Before going further, Almost DailyBrett will remind readers of the four tenets of Crisis Communications:

  1. Tell The Truth
  2. Tell It All
  3. Tell It Fast
  4. Move On

There is little doubt that GM’s corporate PR types toyed with the idea of dumping this dead-dog factory closure announcement on the ultimate bad news distribution day of any year – Black Friday or the second day of the long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Nice way for big bad GM to give thanks to its affected workers during the holidays?

Ultimately, the folks who used the ridiculous, twisted in knots verb – “unallocated” – couldn’t bring themselves to drop this bomb the day after Thanksgiving, so they opted for the following Monday, November 26.

And yet, there was the little matter of the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who carried Ohio and Michigan.

The Fifth Tenet of Crisis Communications

There may even be a fifth tenet of Crisis Communications: Never Blindside The Boss.

Could GM inform Donald Trump concurrently with the factory closures/14,000 layoffs announcement? Not a chance.

Even at the risk of a leak/premature disclosure, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra had no choice but to pick up the phone and call the president this past weekend.

The alternative of the mushroom treatment, keeping POTUS in the dark and feeding him fertilizer, was clearly not an option. The resulting Trump tweets about being disappointed could well have reflected that he was furious, if he was not informed in advance.

In a series of wrong calls, give GM credit for getting this one right … there was absolutely no upside in blindsiding the president.

Seven Layoffs in Three Years

When the Internet Bubble burst in March 2000, the technology business – particularly semiconductors — crashed into the wall … and there were no skid marks.

For Almost DailyBrett’s employer, LSI Logic, we enjoyed a post-split share price of $90 in 2000, full-running factories, $2.7 billion in revenues, and about 7,700 employees.

Within three years, our stock price plunged to $3, we eliminated two factories, revenues sank to $1.8 billion, and our workforce was reduced to 3,900.

In short, we did everything we could … to survive.

Included in this effort was the issuance of seven news releases, announcing a cumulative series of job cuts and factory curtailments-closures (i.e., Gresham, Colorado Springs, Santa Clara). Eliminating jobs and closing factory gates does not get better with age.

We also instinctively knew there were certain audiences, who needed to be briefed in advance, preferably hours before the news release crossed the wires. Predictably, they (i.e., governors, city council members, county supervisors …) were disappointed, but they understood the economic imperative of our decisions.

The GM case is much trickier. The company received a $39.7 billion taxpayer bailout in the dark days of 2009. Is this “unallocation” of factories and people the way GM says thanks to America during Thanksgiving?

At least Mary Barra picked up the phone and called the big boss.

Can you imagine being a fly on the proverbial Oval Office wall?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=treat%20em%20like%20a%20mushroom

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-corporate-euphemism-ever-gms-unallocated-factories-a-contender/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/28/General-Motors-layoffs-factory-shutdown-Lordstown-Ohio/stories/201811280038

 

 

 

The four basic tenets of crisis communication:

Tell The Truth,

Tell It All,

Tell It Fast,

Move On.

Can Almost DailyBrett add? Don’t take 937 words or more to tell your side of the story, five days late.

In this age of texting and social media, even 500 words are too much … way too much.

In the wake of Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of data from at least 50 million Facebook subscribers for political purposes, the social media company was conspicuously slow in replying.

The company’s common shares have already lost 13 percent in terms of market capitalization, two class-action lawsuits have been filed, and most likely, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation, and most likely Facebook’s CEO will be subpoenaed by both houses of Congress.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally stepped to the plate last Wednesday with his mammoth Facebook post/statement. Reportedly, Zuckerberg has already lost $10 billion in net worth.

Responding to Zuckerberg’s lengthy epistle about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica affair, Kelly Evans of CNBC declared the company’s statement was TLDR or Too Long, Didn’t Read.

There was no question that Facebook needed to issue a statement from founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Mission accomplished … finally.

Actually reading and re-rereading Zuckerberg’s prose, one is convinced this is a classic case of CEO statement by committee. The world’s worst news releases are those composed by six, seven, eight, nine … or more (including lawyers), each with at least one point that needs to be incorporated.

Forget about zero based budgeting (e.g., one deletion for each addition), the Zuckerberg post comes across as both agonizing and defensive.

Beware Of Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

What does Almost DailyBrett recommend when it comes to composing a statement in a crisis situation?

First, keep the numbers of cooks in the kitchen to a minimum, no more than six people … including the principal, Zuckerberg, and the general counsel, Colin Stretch.

Second, ask who else needs to be there? COO Sheryl Sandberg? Okay who else? The determination for participation should be based exclusively on need to be there, not nice to be there.

Third, the lead public relations pro should serve as the editor for the post, coming into the meeting with a “strawman” draft, thus providing a starting point for the exercise.

Fourth, the goal of the statement should be completeness but not exhaustive completeness. The question: ‘Have we told our side of the story?’ Don’t expect to answer every question by means of a post. Make your points, and make them clearly.

Fifth, quarterback your disclosure process. Ensure your employees (e.g., Facebook, 25,105), customers (e.g., advertisers), shareholders, investors … everyone receives the message simultaneously.

Sixth, Zuckerberg’s post is “material” under SEC’s Reg FD (Fair Disclosure provision). The issuance of the post/statement requires the immediate filing of an 8-K disclosure, preferably upon the close of the U.S. markets at 4:01 pm EDT/1:01 pm PDT.

Seventh, Facebook’s communications team and hired-gun public relations agencies need to be disciplined, keeping their related chatter with business-political-trade reporters/editors to a minimum. Be deliberately boring. Don’t walk on the statement from the boss.

Looking back on the four tenets of crisis communications in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica case:

Did Facebook finally tell the truth? Only time will tell, but it appears the company is trying to do just that.

Did Facebook tell it all? From the size of the statement, the company told it all … and then some.

Did Facebook, tell it fast? Five days for a CEO response is untenable. For a social media leader, 937 words is inexcusable (more than three Twitter posts).

Is Facebook moving on with its Sunday newspaper ads?

Facebook is trying, but this story has legs (e.g., lawsuits, congressional testimony, stock under pressure). It appears that Facebook will have to do a better job monitoring the content on its site (most likely with future government regulation), even if it comes from 2 billion subscribers.

Wonder if Mark Zuckerberg wants to go back to his Harvard dorm room?

 

Hard Questions: Update on Cambridge Analytica (937 words)

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced measures Facebook is taking to better protect people’s data, given reports that Cambridge Analytica may still be in possession of Facebook user data that was improperly obtained. We shared more information on the steps we’re taking to prevent abuse of our platform in a post on our Newsroom.

Mark Zuckerberg

on Wednesday

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.

Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, we will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/21/zuckerberg-statement-on-cambridge-analytica.html

https://www.cnbc.com/quotes/?symbol=FB&tab=profile

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/FB/profile?p=FB

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

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