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Crisis Pr

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There have been countless public relations crises in the past and there are five steps that should be executed in order to properly manage a crisis. First, the corporation in crisis should be prompt, addressing the public immediately following the discovery of the crisis. Second, the corporation in question should maintain honesty because the public is more willing to forgive an honest mistake than a calculated lie. Third, it is important to be informative because the media as well as the public will create their own rumors if no information is given to them by the corporation in crisis. Rumors can cause significantly more damage to the corporation than the truth. Next, it is important to be concerned and show the public you care because people will be more forgiving if it is clear that the corporation cares about the victims of the crisis. Finally, maintain two-way relationships. This is important because the corporation can learn a lot about the status of public opinion by listening. These five steps are necessary in order to manage any crisis public relations situation.

With that having been said, each crisis situation is unique and, therefore, requires a tailored response. There are six types of responses and they range on a continuum from defensive to accommodative. First, corporations can attack the accuser attempting to eliminate the attacker’s credibility. Second, corporations can use denial claiming that no crisis exists. The third response is justification where the corporation claims no serious damage was done or that the victim was at fault. Fourth, the corporation can use ingratiation to appease the publics, such as giving away coupons. Next, corporations can use corrective action to right their wrongs. Finally, the corporation can give a full apology asking for forgiveness for their mistake. All six responses have been used in the past with varying results. If chosen properly, one of the six responses can help mitigate damage.

In March 2005, a woman bit into a finger while eating chili at Wendy’s. This crisis could have damaged Wendy’s image, but the corporation responded properly. They shut down the location, threw out the chili and had an investigation to discover the source of the finger. Wendy’s communicated with the public openly and honestly. As a result, very little damage was done to their image.

Other successful cases of crisis public relations include the well-known Diet Pepsi case and the Tylenol case. Diet Pepsi ran into trouble when consumers began “finding” foreign objects in cans of Diet Pepsi. A variety of different objects were found including a syringe, a bullet, and even a crack cocaine vial. The corporation knew that there was no possible way for these objects to be inserted during the bottling process. As a result, Diet Pepsi used a defensive strategy claiming its innocence. They communicated openly with the public, attacked the accusers, and allowed their bottling process to be shown on the news. Temporary damage had been done to Diet Pepsi, but they quickly rebounded from the situation. In a similar manner, Tylenol found itself in a crisis situation when people started dying from consuming cyanide laced Tylenol capsules. Tylenol acted quickly and pulled its product off the shelves without being forced to do so. They communicated openly and often with the public and had an investigation. Tylenol was found innocent at the conclusion of the investigation. Tylenol had a favorable brand image with the public because they pulled their product when they discovered the problem. Following the crisis, they even added safety seals to ensure the safety of its consumers.

While there are successful crisis public relations crises, there are a number of poor examples of crisis management. Ford and Firestone destroyed their images after mismanaging the crisis that occurred when many of their consumers died as a result of tire blowouts. Both companies claimed innocence and blamed the other. Ford and Firestone did not communicate openly or honestly with the public. Also, both corporations implied their lack of concern for their customers when they ignored the deaths and injuries of their customers to protect their bottom line. Ford’s and Firestone’s response to the crisis alienated their customers and caused significant damage to their image.

More recently, it seems the government has seen itself attempting to manage public relations crises, many of which could have been prevented. Dick Cheney found himself at the center of media attention when he shot his friend with a shot gun while hunting. He did not communicate with the public nor the administration in Washington about the incident until well after the incident had occurred. His actions made it appear to the public as though he were hiding something. When he finally addressed the public, it was too little too late. His mistake continues to be the foundation of many jokes to this day.

Additionally, the United Arab Emerites received the contract to protect many of America’s ports. This caused a crisis because many if not most Americans do not trust the UAE at this particular moment. In the eyes of many, Bush gave the job of protecting out ports to the enemy. Not to mention, he is perpetuating job outsourcing which makes Americans nervous. Protecting America’s ports should be America’s job. Also, Bush gave the UAE the contract at his discretion without consulting the public. He seems to have overstepped the system of checks and balances this country was founded on. Bush created an unnecessary crisis causing more negative public sentiment to be directed at his administration.

Other government flops have occurred in recent months, such as the failure to rescue



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