pr crisises
Category: In the News, Insight

PR Crisis Lessons

The job of most public relations professionals is to analyze the way that corporate communications are going to make target audiences feel. That’s why it’s important to ask how each statement is going to be perceived by the public, the purpose of that statement, and the potential damage it can cause to a brand.

These days, people are spending a lot more time on social media compared to the past, because they’ve had to stay in their homes due to the pandemic.

Additionally, the increase of political involvement across a variety of spheres has generated a large number of digital activists that are ready to call out any potential mistake, which means the likelihood and the cost of a PR crisis have both increased.

That’s why companies have to find a balance between avoiding offense while drawing attention to each message to the public.

Burger King

At the beginning of 2021, during International Women’s Day, Burger King shared a tweet that drew a lot of backlash from the public. The fast-food chain tweeted out “Women belong in the kitchen” in an attempt to empower women and motivate an increase in the number of women in head-chef roles around the country.

The brand also clarified the statement saying it was trying to encourage women to pursue careers in the culinary industry if they want to do so, but that clarification didn’t manage to avert any of the backlash to the original statement.

The goal of the brand with the original statement was to shock audiences, instead of offending them. Unfortunately, while Burger King successfully generated a lot of attention, it was the perceived offensive statement that drew the most attention, while the additional messages of empowerment were lost in the noise. The brand was forced to remove the statement by deleting the tweet from its social media.

Volkswagen

Toward the end of March, the automaker shared an image featuring a slight adjustment to the brand’s name, changing it to Voltswagen, instead of Volkswagen. The image was released along with a press release, which was actually supposed to be published a month later, for April Fools.

However, many people believed that the brand was making an honest statement, which led to a lot of confusion, because many people, as well as the press, took the statement seriously.

The issue was that the release was timed to appear as a legitimate story from Volkswagen, and a lot of people spent their time covering it.

The next day, all of the reporters that talked about the changed name were made to feel foolish, because they weren’t informed beforehand about the stunt. That’s why companies should be providing relevant press releases to outlets, otherwise, they are going to be deemed as abusing the trust of those outlets.

Peloton

When a video of a child getting trapped under a treadmill by Peloton started spreading on the internet, people started thinking that the new Peloton Tread+ treadmills were dangerous. While the brand was at first defensive and argued that the devices were safe while they were used properly, many customers didn’t find those statements too believable after seeing the video. D

uring times when the public believes a product to be dangerous, it’s better to address their concerns instead of providing additional arguments. Instead of the brand taking quick action and recalling the product, it decided to fight the claims.

The job of most public relations professionals is to analyze the way that corporate communications are going to make target audiences feel. That’s why it’s important to ask how each statement is going to be perceived by the public, the purpose of that statement, and the potential damage it can cause to a brand. These days, people are spending a lot more time on social media compared to the past, because they’ve had to stay in their homes due to the pandemic. Additionally, the increase of political involvement across…