It is smart to have a crisis communication plan prepared in case there is ever a disaster that strikes your company or client. In 2016, we saw a good bit of public relations crises. Some were handled well and others could have been handled in a more effective way. I have done research and picked out, what I feel, are the three PR disasters of 2016 that will always be remembered.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7- Samsung recalled their Note 7 once the devices were reported to be overheating and occasionally catching on fire. This started as a manufacturing crisis, but quickly shifted into a public relations nightmare. Samsung responded quickly to the issue at hand, but was not direct or transparent when relaying the details to their customers and stakeholders. Samsung is coined as making this crisis a public relations problem “By acting passively and communicating misinformation.” Handling the crisis this way made “Samsung [throw] its brand reputation into question.” When there are people’s safety at risk, there must be more done than a tab added to the company’s website. Samsung, a Hong Kong based tech company, failed to cooperate with the correct product recall in place by the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States. This would have gone over much smoother if Samsung would have just released a holding statement as soon as they were aware of the situation. How Samsung failed at having an effect crisis management plan will continue to be talked about for people to learn how-to not plan for a disaster.
- Lotche’s Fake News- Remember when Ryan Lotche and some other Olympic friends were held at gunpoint in a Rio gas station? Fake news. Lochte is a 12-time medal winner for the United States swim team, but his reputation took a nosedive into murky waters when the truth of what happened that wild night emerged. When the video was brought to light of the real happenings, Lotche apologized for “over-exaggerating” his story he originally had crafted. Immediately, Speedo and Polo Ralph Lauren dropped Lotche as being one of their celebrities they supported. Looking back now, Lochte may have been better off by admitting “the bad behavior, but Lotche chose to concoct a nutty, self-aggrandizing story about being robbed by gun-brandishing bandits” when he really was the one that vandalized the gas station with teammates. Lochte has been trying to re-brand himself by getting engaged, being on “Dancing with The Stars”, and his fiancée is expecting.
- EpiPen Price Increase- Five years ago this life-saving anti-allergy device was just $160, but now is selling for $600. Mylan has been accused of price gouging because they have the monopoly on the Epi-Pen. With there not being another type of device like this on the market, Mylan has become money hungry by continuously raising their prices. The presidential candidates, Congress, and other Washington influencers quickly responded to this outrageous increase in price of the Epi-Pen. Gil Bashe, leader of healthcare practice at New York’s Finn Partners, expresses, “The Mylan EpiPen crisis is a self-created reputation fiasco, another fallen pharma domino—along with KV Pharma, Turing and Valeant. Mylan joined a small, highly visible list of industry outliers who betrayed public trust and the core public belief that pharma companies aim to help patients live longer, healthier lives.” When healthcare companies are making deciisons like this it is best to remember the impact on patients, payers, physicians and policymakers. When dealing with a person’s livelihood, a positive following will always be better than a negative one.
When making your pre-crisis communication plan, remember what George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”