When Silence Is Not Golden
For a public-facing retail business, silence in a crisis can
only worsen things by creating a crisis of confidence with customers, the
media, public safety officials and other stakeholders. St. Louis-based regional
grocery chain Schnuks is finding
out the hard way.
As of this posting, still nothing on their website two weeks after knowing about the
breach; the "Latest Communication" section of their webpage promotes a job
fair, and a potato chip product recall.
At CommCore we advise our clients that in a crisis,
especially one involving the public, external communication and transparency
are of utmost importance. Even if Schnuks was the victim of a hack, they will
suddenly find themselves seen as the villain instead of victim if they continue to remain silent
with their clients, suppliers and other stakeholders.
As one frustrated customer posted on a State of
Missouri credit card fraud Facebook page: "[F]rom a corporate standpoint, an ethical
standpoint... I wish that Schnucks would have been proactive and made a STRONG
statement when they became aware of this issue more than 2 weeks ago. For
example: 'We have become aware of a security breach. Please continue shopping
at our store, but use the ATM located near the entry to withdraw cash. Because
of your inconvenience, we will offer double coupons on Tuesdays AND
Thursdays'...or something like that..... I am disappointed in their non-response."
should bring that customer in to run their communications department.
One of the
most difficult communications challenges is an institutional apology.
are told not to say we're "sorry" on behalf of an organization if we can get
around it, for example by expressing "regret" at an outcome from this problem
or that. But sometimes there's no getting around it – lives have been seriously
affected by an incident, and a sincere and heartfelt apology is not only in
order, it is essential.
So, how do
you handle an organizational apology? If it's pro forma because lawyers have
combed over every word, it will read and sound like a legal brief and lack any
conviction in the eyes and ears of the intended audience. If it's off-the-cuff,
it may result in a misstep like BP CEO Anthony Heyward injecting "I'd like my life back" into his public apology for the massive
Gulf Oil spill, a now-infamous remark that caused him and BP more
harm than good.
CommCore, we concur. If you don't feel it, can't deliver it to your target
audience quickly via multiple channels, and can't back an apology up with
substantive remedial actions, you likely have an institutional problem that is
larger than any specific communication challenge. And we believe
responsibility for that lies with the face of the organization – the CEO as Communicator-in-Chief.
If he or
she can't step up to the plate convincingly and effectively, any apology will
likely be seen as a sorry excuse for one.
Labels: apology, CommCore, corporate communications, Deirdre Breakenridge, public relations, Pure Performance Communications
The Communications Gap in Leadership
study of public attitudes by Ketchum Public Relations' Leadership
Communications Monitor reinforces the existence of a gap between organizational
leaders and a critical leadership skill – communication ability.
communication is the public's #1 attribute of effective leadership
24% of people around the world believe leaders overall are providing effective
60% of people changed their buying habits because of a company’s perceived poor
we always remind our clients of two points raised by esteemed communicators --
that Communications is what Winston Churchill called The Language of
Leadership, and that the writer George Bernard Shaw famously said, "The
single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken
In an article in PR News in February, "Media Training as Leadership Development," CommCore CEO Andrew Gilman asks, "Is media training a tactical skill to prepare for interviews or an aspect of leadership development?"
After examining several tactical and strategic variables, Gilman concludes, "Media training will prepare you tactically to plan, respond and get better quotes in almost any interview. And when framed in terms of grooming leadership skills, the outcomes are improved for all involved."
Labels: Andrew Gilman, CommCore, Communications, Ketchum Public Relations, Leadership, Leadership Communications Monitor, media training, public relations
L.A. Times Hacker Case: Will Cyber Attack Litigation Prompt Overhaul of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
IT security experts like to say: There
are basically two types of organizations when it comes to hacking: Those that have been hacked and know it, and
those that have been hacked and don’t know it.
and more attention is being paid to all types of hacking -- foreign government
sponsored, black hat and white hat. The
indictment of Matthew Keys (for assisting the hacking collective Anonymous on an
attack against the LA Times) is a recent
example of the US Department of Justice action. Keys faces up to 10 years in
prison and a $250,000 fine on each count; an indication that the DOJ is taking
this case seriously. Today, the New York Times reported that many legal specialists and
observers are upset by the severity of the consequences Mr. Keys faces and are
petitioning for an overhaul of the fraud act.
professionals need to work closely with IT and organization security
professionals on what and when to discuss hacking. In addition, PR needs to
help lead other crisis response and prevention efforts such as what to say or
do following social media comments and attacks.
The speed at which bad news, rumors and allegations can go viral
requires closer collaboration between physical, virtual and reputation
the measures that can be taken to improve response time is a crisis simulation
that combines a table top exercise with social media/hacking issues. CommCore’s
Pressure Test is designed to help clients, spot issues, decide who needs to
be part of a response team and then make better decisions.
watch the Keys trial for both the verdict and any insights on how and why
Anonymous executes its attacks.
Labels: CommCore, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Crisis Management, Crisis Response, Cyber Attack, hacking, IT, Los Angeles Times, Matthew Keys, Pressure Test, public relations, Public Reputation
Salary-Savvy Negotiation Skills Women Need
When people ask if women in the workforce can “have it all”,
reactions will vary. This is definitely an interesting debate, but most
wouldn’t consider it to be breaking news. While this is the case, the evolving dilemma
of balancing family and career while maintaining a sense of fulfillment has
taken the spotlight. From Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, just releasing her book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" to Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer
returning to work just a week after giving birth, there is a major buzz. So why
is this issue becoming such a prevalent discussion?
are climbing the corporate ladder and are rightfully demanding both the respect
of their male peers and appropriate financial compensation from their
employers. Due to this, women seeking to negotiate their salaries need to be
prepared. “Having it all” still poses a challenge because many men (and some
women who do not have to balance family and career), are reluctant to view
women as equals and feel that they are not qualified for a raise because of
their familial priorities. Those who incorrectly assume that women with
families are incapable of performing to their best ability need a wake-up call.
The best form of this being a meeting with a woman who possesses salary savvy
Consulting Group, a leader in effective communication skills, provides speaker
and presentation tools which will enhance your confidence and provide structure
to your argument. Here are a few basic skills women can rely on when
negotiating their salary:
Know your audience and what is important to them
Trim the basis of your argument down to the
essential points you need to make
Anticipate questions your employer may ask you
Memorize your opening statement
Cite specific examples of why you deserve this
(i.e. a lead on a successful project)
Emphasize your key messages through repetition
Avoid making negative statements referring to
past experiences, behavior of colleagues (this is about you and why you deserve
this; it is not a contest with your co-workers)
Close with a positive statement
Labels: CommCore Consulting Group, Facebook, Lean In, Marissa Mayer, Negotiations, Raises, Salary, Sheryl Sandberg, Women better leaders, Yahoo
Interview with Jerry Doyle on Crisis Communications