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The point of this post is not to pile on the disgusting Domino’s Pizza video.  It is, though, a great opdominos-pizzaportunity to reflect on the importance of crisis communications.

From last week’s Advertising Age and last week’s PRWeek (sorry, login required), to this week’s PRNews, there is no end to the chatter about Domino’s, Motrin moms, Taco Bell rats and #amazonfail.

I really like the focus on the several steps that PR professionals recommend for any company, whether direct-to-consumer or B2B:

Ad Age says: Identify your crisis team; plan for nightmare scenarios; track the blogosphere and other social media; and, don’t wait.

PRNews adds: Prevent; manage; recover; repeat.

There is little question that the internet and social media has provided a new and incredibly powerful outlet for the nearly instantaneous spreading of news, good and bad.  It is equally a source for brand nightmares as for reputation management, if you know how to access and use it.

Internet or not, most of the basics of reputation management haven’t changed:

  • Have a plan and keep it current – be sure to practice regularly and keep accountabilities current for changing personnel.
  • Understand and have a plan for social media and consider your Web site as a platform from which to communicate.
  • Be prepared to respond quickly, but be certain to carefully assess what is occuring in the market place for fear of inadvertantly feeding the frenzy.
  • Be transparent – always tell the truth.  Listen to your lawyers, always, but make your decisions for the sake of the brand not just for litigation preparation.
  • Stick to your message – think your response through carefully and move off of it grudgingly, only when something unexpected happens.
  • Debrief and learn, all in the spirit of preparing for the next threat to your brand reputation.

There are many good sources of information for crisis management.  At Vehr Communications, we publish “Insights” and recently posted “Crisis Communications … Staying in Control of Your Message”.

The international PR partnership known as IPREX (we are a member) recently collaborated to publish, “Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival”.

There is really no excuse to be unprepared. 

Post by Nick Vehr – 4.29.09

I admit it, I’m old school.  I still like the feel of the newspaper and seeing newsprint on my fingertips.  I still think of books as precious collectibles.

My wife and I agreed to cancel our home subscription to our local paper (Cincinnati Enquirer) several months ago to The Kindle by Amazon.comread it online.  It was a bad experience (primarily due to the design and function (or lack thereof) of their online edition).  We’ve just resubscribed.

This morning the Wall Street Journal’s Technology section lead with a story about the e-book (see the Kindle above).  My wife is a Kindle owner and swears by it.  I still have a stack of books to read sitting by my side of the bed.

At lunch today I read PRWeek (4.13.09) and the story about Plastic Logic Readers (see below) and the initiatve of several newspapers to convert to this larger, more newspaper-like and user-friendly e-news format (sorry, no link available plastic-logic-reader1except by subscription).

Clearly, these two market segments (print news and books) are evolving due to new technologies.  But, where is this headed?

Will I ever consume all my news from my “phone?”  I can’t imagine that.  But, people probably once said they’d never consumer all their news from a black-and-white TV screen in their living room.

Will I ever read books on an e-reader?  I hope not.  But, Johannes Gutenberg opened up an entire world to people that had been reserved only for the most wealthy and upper class. He changed the world.

Will I ever carry my “phone,” a Kindle and a Plastic Logic Reader.  I doubt it; too much stuff to move around with.

Will something else replace them all?  Maybe.  Or, will I continue to value the feel of newsprint and the smell of books while consuming news online from my “phone.”

These are fascinating times and a great time to be a professional communicator

Whatever happens with me (and many millions more just like me) will influence precisely how we advise clients to communicate strategically to achieve their most important business objectives.

Post by Nick Vehr – 4.20.09

Bernard Kilgore, WSJ Managing Editor (1941-1967)

Bernard Kilgore, WSJ Managing Editor (1941-1967)

Today’s Wall Street Journal (4.13.09) brings an insightful column by L. Gordon Crovitz titled, “Making Old Media New Again.”

For professional communicators interested in the future of newspapers, Crovitz provides an interesting look back through the eyes of former Journal manging editor Barney Kilgore.

Apparently, Kilgore wrote a 5-page memo in 1958 for the owners of the New York Herald Tribune suggesting that the Tribune was, “too much a newspaper that might be published in Philadelphia, Washington or Chicago.”

Kilgore suggested 51 years ago what many are suggesting now … the “compact model newspaper.” 

He wrote, “Readers value their time, so the newspaper should have just one section, with larger editions on Sunday when people had more time to read.”

Many of us have speculated that “city” newspapers (as opposed to those with national circulation) may be headed in just this direction … smaller during the week (if at all) and larger with more analytical content on weekends, especially Sunday.

There’s plenty more in the column.  Definitely worth reading.  Regardless, I thought it was interesting for those of us bearing active witness to a business in transition.

Those interested in this topic might like the blog, Newmediacy.  It is authored by a friend in Cincinnati who is a former journalist and now a communicaitons professional.  He offers thoughtful posts from his unique vantage point.

Post by Nick Vehr – 4.13.09

Today is Opening Day in Cincinnati!  For lifelong Cincinnatians, this day of nothing but red (Cincinnati Reds) is the harbinger of green – green leaves, blooming flowers, fresh cut grass and outdoor chores.  reds2

Of course, we’ll ignore the fact that today’s weather (supposed to be in the 30s with mixed rain and snow) is just plain awful.  Everyone in Cincinnati has high hopes for the Reds and for life renewed. 

Maybe Nick Lachey throwing out the first pitch will bring us good luck.  “Taking the Stage,” his new MTV reality show featuring Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts, is certainly bringing Cincinnati incredible positive exposure!

For communications professionals, this is also a good time to take a hard look at your and your clients’ Web sites to make sure they are doing what you want them to be doing. 

spring-cleaning1From checking to make sure all your links are still live to being certain that content is original, fresh and searchable, and dozens of other suggestions or questions to ask and answer, consider this as Web site Spring Cleaning. 

We’re doing that right now at Vehr Communications with our site.

Each month we publish a newsletter titled, March Forth.  Just follow this link to our just published April edition titled, “Spring Cleaning … Web Site Maintence and Promotion.” 

We also provide some links to some of the best reads about Web sites we found at Amazon.com.  Here’s what we included:

We hope you’ll find some helpful tips.  And, we’d appreciate any additional suggestions to share with other readers of this blog post.

Go Cincinnati Reds!

Post by Nick Vehr – 4.6.09