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Friday, June 28, 2013

Red Flags Over The NFL

The NFL can't win for losing:

·         Last February 4 we posted an item on this blog taking the National Football League to task for failing to communicate promptly with the media and the public when the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome in the middle of the Superbowl.

·        Now there's the sorry saga of Aaron Hernandez, the former all-star tight end of the New England Patriots. He stands charged with murder and gun law violations, and he dominates all news coverage of the NFL in between football seasons. Add to that the subsequent arrest of the Cleveland Browns' rookie linebacker Ausar Walcott on charges of attempted murder, and you have a Perfect Storm.

The Hernandez and Walcott cases have NFL image-bashing in full swing. Furthermore, reports indicate that since the Superbowl there have been anywhere from 27 to 33 arrests of NFL players. This week the Kansas City Star even ran a rogue’s gallery of portraits of players arrested since the Superbowl.

It's clear the NFL has to do more than remove Hernandez's #81 jersey from its NFL Store now that he has been dismissed from the team and the league.

At CommCore we tell our crisis clients that most crisis communications isn’t about making a problem go away; it’s about preventing a bad situation from getting worse. That means the NFL paying more attention to the players’ off-the-field activities, determining why they commit crimes, and addressing the issue head-on.

As SportsMedia’s Chuck Chapman wrote: “The league has no problem keeping its players on a tight leash to promote a positive image on the field. Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL owners are going to have to apply the same kinds of standards for off the field behavior…or risk losing everything they’ve built.”


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The "Gross" Factor: Social Media Monitoring in the Retail Food Sector

Monitoring social media is essential for any business, but because of its potential "Gross Factor" it’s especially important in the food industry.

Many will remember the seminal disgusting "prank" YouTube video posted four years ago by two Domino’s Pizza employees that garnered global headlines, resulted in felony charges against the pair, and damaged the pizza chain's brand for months.

Similar if not identical problems have re-surfaced in recent weeks for two other major food brands, Taco Bell and Wendy's. A recent posting on Reddit showed a Wendy’s employee eating ice cream directly from the dispenserThis came just weeks after a photo of a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of tacos went viral on Facebook. 

Taco Bell issued the following statement: "Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and team members, and we have strict food handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations. When we learned of the situation we immediately contacted this restaurant's leadership and although we believe it is a prank and the food was not served to customers, we are conducting a full scale investigation and will be taking swift action against those involved." A spokesman for Wendy's declined to identify the worker and the location of the photograph but stated that the incident most likely took place in May with the company currently investigating the incident. 

 At CommCore we repeatedly remind our clients that social media is a double-edged sword, especially when many of their employees are young and deeply engaged in online sharing:

·         Monitor, monitor, monitor. Early detection of a potentially harmful social media posting provides an opportunity for immediate engagement with customers before – or soon after – the posting goes viral.

·        Don't issue bland corporate-speak responses to a damaging social media posting. When an embarrassing posting goes viral, it tends to do so because it’s seen as maliciously funny. Address the posting head-on in social media, engage the online community on its own terms, and try and blunt further proliferation.

·        Highlight the consequences to both the brand and the employees of any social media postings involving the company, its products or services, or its employees.



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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Booz Allen & Edward Snowden – What did they know? When did they know it?

At the moment, Booz Allen Hamilton is what is called “collateral damage” from the revelation that self-confessed government document leaker Edward Snowden worked at the government contracting/consulting firm.

The immediate damage was to the company stock which was down as much as 5% after the leak and Snowden’s association was made known.  Booz Allen responded to the news about their employee by firing Snowden and issued a statement on its website, reiterating its shock at the situation:

Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

Now comes the next stage to find out if the media or Congressional investigators aim its sights at Booz with a barrage of questions:  How did he get hired?  Who supervised him? How did he get access to such key documents?  Did anyone else assist him?

At CommCore, we assume that Booz Allen has a crisis plan that provides some direction on how monitor the crisis that primarily involves Snowden but that could come back to further scrutiny of the firm.  Booz should also be monitoring Twitter and blogs for comments.

We think Snowden type events should be wake-up calls for any organization to make sure that you have a crisis plan, adjust for new types of events and then figure out when you can drill with your team.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Where’s the Beef? Black Angus version

We don’t usually advise clients to waste time in media interviews bashing the competition.  Reporters like it but it doesn’t benefit your cause to have your one and only quote about “them” instead of your message.

Not so in advertising and certain aspects of social media.  The mobile phone companies joust about each other in ads all the time, car companies will compare each other by name.  Now it’s burger wars.

After McDonald’s dropped its Angus Third Pounders, Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, owners of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. took to YouTube with a folksy burger-eating smack down touting his burgers and offering coupons to McDonald’s loyalists to try his product.

 Usually we say to CEO’s trying to be cute to stick to their day job.  Yet for Puzder, Youtube is part of day job. He’s actually pretty good in the spot, but not quite as funny as the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign starring Clara Peller, that Wendy’s ran in the 1980s and 1990s.  Nevertheless, Puzder and his two chains are getting coverage in the business and marketing press. 

It’s not the hottest trend on twitter but Black Angus beef is getting some pick-up.

CommCore thinks this is a clever way to make some news and attract attention to a brand. Let’s see if it results in brand recognition and increased sales.  

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