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This Week in Crisis PR


Crises – they happen. There seems to be no shortage of brands in crisis mode these days. This week was no exception.

On that note, I’m introducing a new column to highlight the PR crises of the week. I bring you (drum roll, please):

PR Crises of the Week

This week, the list includes:

Papa John’s

As you’ve probably heard by now, John Schnatter, chairman of Papa John’s, resigned following the revelation that he had used a racial slur in a May conference call with the marketing agency Laundry Service.

Per MediaPost, “Ironically, the call was meant to be a role-playing exercise for Schnatter, ‘in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus,’ following his disastrous November 2017 comments.”

The fallout continued this week, as allegations that Laundry Service was out to extort money in a smear campaign against Schnatter came to light, as reported here by PR Daily.

Then today came stories about the company culture being “sexist” and “toxic.”

There’s sure to be more to come on this story unfolding in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned, PR pros, for lessons to be learned.

MGM Resorts

On Tuesday, news broke that MGM Resorts was suing victims of the mass shooting that took place at its Mandalay Bay property in Oct. 2017. The news created a crisis for the brand, with the hashtag #BoycottMGM now trending.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, “MGM Resorts International’s public image took a bruising on social media Tuesday after the company filed a federal lawsuit against more than 1,000 Las Vegas mass shooting victims in an effort to avoid liability.”

While CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said MGM’s lawyers “made a smart legal move,” many question the optics.

“If you make the public think that you’re suing people or their families who are dead or seriously injured, to me that’s a PR disaster,” Klieman said.

It remains to be seen how MGM will respond to the public backlash.


Late in the week, Burberry joined the list of major brands in crisis when it was reported that the company burns its excess stock of items to “thwart counterfeiters.”

The news drew an immediate backlash from consumers who feel that not only is it wasteful but socially irresponsible to burn the items, which range from bags to clothes to perfume.

As PR Daily reported, “The fallout could be a big problem for these companies, as data show that consumers increasingly want the brands they buy to stand for positive change in their community.”

Which Crisis Stood Out?

Which crisis stood out for you this week, PR pros? Which brand is doing the best job of handling its crisis? How will the brands apologize and recover? Let’s keep an eye out to see how things shake out for these three brands.

All of this underscores the need for brands to be crisis ready. Get a plan in place BEFORE you need one. Remember that a crisis can happen to ANY brand at ANY time.

Which brand will be next to join the list?




Why you should create a crisis communications plan BEFORE you need one


Summer is nearly here. How did we get here already? Everyone’s calendar is filling with plans for graduations, Memorial Day and other celebrations.

But, not everyone is celebrating.

The past couple of months has been anything but a party for several well-known brands. Pepsi. Delta. Adidas. And of course, United. All these brands have had major missteps that became headline news.

While we may cringe when we hear these tales of corporate missteps, there may be a silver lining. These mistakes present an opportunity to talk about how PR, specifically crisis communications planning, can help in times of trouble. Continue reading Why you should create a crisis communications plan BEFORE you need one

Turns Out Knowing How to Apologize Matters in a PR Crisis


Well, this week offered no shortage of things for communicators to talk about. Crisis after crisis struck, as United, Pepsi—and even the White House—made major missteps that created PR headaches for each.

On the upside, crises like these make it easier for PR pros to explain just what it is we do!

But, on a more serious note, as we examine these incidents, what can be learned? In the wake of making a mistake, what’s the best way to handle the situation before it blows up into a bigger disaster? Continue reading Turns Out Knowing How to Apologize Matters in a PR Crisis