Saturday, June 5, 2010

Text Book Cases

In the 1980's, we studied the Tylenol tampering case to learn how to respond to crisis. Johnson & Johnson and its spin doctors reacted so well, that incident was a pattern for years to come.

In the 1990's, we had Food Lion's run in with ABC and Ford's exploding tires, and we learned more nuances of what to do in crisis response. We also had horrible tragedies such as Columbine and the Oklahoma City Bombing to prepare us for the unthinkable.

Then a new century evolved and we learned from Mayor Rudy Giuliani and others about saying the right thing when the sky is literally falling down around us.

Now, a new text book chapter is being written. The BP oil catastrophe will be analyzed from a crisis response for years to come. The initial take from media critics is that the company is doing some things well in terms of crisis communications and some aspects could use some work. For example, BP has been praised for its handling of social media. But reporters and observers are questioning the corporation's transparency, ability to solve the crisis, and wording on legitimate claims.

If there could be a silver lining to this ugly mess in the Gulf, it is that we all will learn more about responding to the public and the media when disaster strikes.

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