Archive for the ‘Crisis Communications’ Category

Getting Back to Business – how to survive post-PR crisis

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Lisa Libin, Vice President

Turn on the news these days and you will be inundated with PR crises. And while a crisis can be detrimental to a brand, there are also a number of companies who have used a crisis to come out stronger in the long run. Think Tylenol, Maple Leaf Foods, Lululemon. The common thread among these companies is that they used a crisis situation to create a long-term opportunity.

Looking at the bright side during a crisis situation may be inconceivable for many business leaders, but below are some key ways to not only move through a crisis but ideally, create a stronger business for the future.

  1. Reconnect with customers – A crisis is a great way to reconnect with customers you may not have been actively engaged with. Many companies tend to be complacent in terms of customer relations until a crisis occurs. Emailing with updates and other forms of ongoing communications helps to show the value a company puts on customers. It is also important to respond to tweets, emails, posts on an individual basis to demonstrate your commitment to the customer. And once the crisis subsides, why stop the communication? Now that the brand has reopened the doors for engagement, it is a great opportunity to keep that interaction going, keeping customers informed and loyal to your brand.


  1. Think Differently – while this was a common saying of former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, these are strong words to live by as a business leader and communicator. Often when a crisis occurs it can be due to a process gap that has impacted the health or safety of the brand’s stakeholders – using this unfortunate incident as a way to relook at and rethink the way things have been done, the way employees have been trained, or the way the brand speaks to the public can present a great opportunity for business leaders to improve their brand both internally and externally.


  1. Build your reputation and credibility – a crisis is an opportunity for a company to build on its reputation and credibility. In many cases, customers are keen to understand that “sh*t happens” and can happen to anyone. What they aren’t keen to understand is when a company tries to hide the issue. By properly handling the situation through communication and most importantly, transparency, it presents the opportunity for the brand to retain trust with stakeholders and even leverage them as advocates for the company.


At the time of the crisis, it can seem like the sky is falling and there is no end in sight. However, the brands that come out shining are the ones who focus not only on the present issue, but also on the future.


Lisa Libin is Vice President at Brookline Public Relations. Lisa loves a good crisis (as long as it’s not a personal one!) and has vast experience in issues management and brand reputation issues, working with local and global communications teams to handle ongoing and current industry issues.

Your Brand’s Audience is Purple

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016




2012 Presidential Election, Purple America.


As an American citizen who has lived in Canada for just over three years at the time of this posting, the last couple of weeks of election-related frenzy has been pretty consuming. Rightly so, I don’t think anyone would debate how divisive the last 18 months was in the US.

Don’t stop reading! This is not an op-ed, but merely a reminder that while you, your colleagues, maybe even the values of your entire company may swing to one political persuasion over another, laying a claim to one side is a sure-fire way to alienate at least a portion of those who support your brand.

Without putting specific companies in the corner with a dunce hat firmly affixed to their heads, there were many reminders in the days following the US election that when a brand takes a political side, it has a PR crisis on its hands. Try this exercise: take politics out of the equation and pretend we’re talking about Coke and Pepsi. If you knew around half your customers were Coke diehards and the other half were Pepsi devotees – would you tweet your full support for Coke, even putting down Pepsi as inferior? Of course you wouldn’t!

Yes, I realize politics have an actual affect over peoples’ lives and they should not be reduced to pop metaphors. Individuals should always be free to express their views, opinions and have the right to endorse and vote for whomever they’d like, it is the very basis of democracy.

It isn’t just customers that brands stand to lose, either. Companies are made of individuals of all persuasions, opinions and values, endorsing one way or another alienates not just a portion of your customers, but a portion of your employees. The PR lesson here is simple: never lose sight of the fact that your brand represents a group of individuals that rally behind your company, through working for the company or buying your products and services. The communications you put out in the world affect them, too.

Remember, the world is not only blue or red, no matter what the Electoral College map tells you. My favourite day-after-election map is the purple map, which shows in gradient how America voted. Without a doubt, after every election, it is a blend of blue and red. It is purple, and your brand should be, too.

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– Doug Self is a Senior Account Executive at Brookline with a background rooted in the technology industry. His expertise lies in media relations, content creation, and communication and marketing strategy. 


Crisis Communications: Don’t Neglect the Follow-Through

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Doug Self, Account Executive


Volkswagen’s recent “Diesel Dupe” emissions scandal is the type of massive corporate crisis that haunts the nightmares of PR practitioners everywhere. Beyond the obvious (that small detail of knowingly lying about your products), there is plenty to be learned from the ongoing situation.

It is important for businesses of all sizes to have a crisis communications plan in place to ensure a swift, meaningful response in the event of a crisis. No doubt a company as large as VW had several gears moving as soon as news of the scandal broke. A timely execution of the plan is crucial, whether it be to take responsibility, express regret, or to simply acknowledge the issue and commit to investigating it.

The step that is often overlooked is the importance of follow-through after the public statement and ensuring the steps to rectify the situation match its significance. Did the company’s statement say it was looking into the situation, ensuring additional training would occur, or that changes to a product were being planned? Those items need to happen and should be well documented. This is especially important when the crisis receives widespread media coverage as the journalists that covered the situation will more-often-than-not follow up with to check if what was promised is actually being put in to action. Essentially – make sure to walk the talk.

The VW case is an extreme example as every piece of information is being scrutinized by the media. With several executives already vacating their posts and the company posting its first quarterly loss in 15 years, it is safe to say the weight of their faults have been felt by the company and key stakeholders.

But, has that translated into resolution for owners of the affected VW vehicles? That part is yet to be determined, but it is certainly headed in the right direction. The initial offering of a “goodwill package” consists of a $500 prepaid Visa card and $500 to spend at a VW dealership. This has been widely regarded as a mediocre start to their promise to “make it right” with VW owners. The company has acknowledged that there is more to come, but it certainly doesn’t feel like the follow-through on their resolution matches the severity of their faults – yet.

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-Doug Self is an Account Executive in Brookline with a background rooted in the technology industry. His expertise lies in media relations, content creation, and communication and marketing strategy.