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Top 5 Best & Worst Handled Crisis Communications Of The Year (2017)

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With 2017 coming to a close, has published its annual worst- and best-handled crisis communications responses for 2017. Many of them should come as no surprise to you:


1. Harvey Weinstein (sexual harassment)

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s statement in response to allegations of sexual harassment and assault was, in our opinion, one of the worst ever, and led to a deluge of (for the most part) equally bad communications responses from other accused men, ushering in the Year of the Sex Harasser.

2. United Airlines (passenger dragging)

We believe United’s handling of the incident in which passenger Dr. David Dao was dragged off a flight was abysmal. The company wavered on the tone and content of its messages, going from defensive to — after it and its stock got pummeled — prostrate.

3. Equifax (data breach)

Equifax was criticized for its terrible handling of the communications around its cybersecurity incident. Its first messages showed lack of concern. CEO Rick Smith looked bored in a video message. Massive complaints rolled in about the website it set up.

4. Uber (toxic culture)

Uber’s crises this year were many, but its two biggest — and related — problems were its toxic culture and its CEO, Travis Kalanick. The mess revealed a desperate need for in-house systems to detect problems before they blow up into major crises.

5. Facebook (Russian advertising)

After the election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was “a crazy idea” to suggest that Facebook might have influenced it. In July, the social-networking giant said it had “seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election.” But in September, it admitted it found 470 profiles linked to Russian agents that bought about 3,000 such political ads before election day last year. Not a great effort.


1. Corporate America (Trump travel ban)

Corporate America was impressively united and strong in its denunciation of President Donald Trump’s January executive order curbing U.S. travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Tempting a Trump Twitter reaction, the companies emphasized in their statements the importance of immigration to the country’s history and to their corporate missions.

2. PwC (Academy Awards mix-up)

When a firm partner made a mistake and handed an Oscar presenter the wrong card for the best-picture award, PwC took the situation seriously. It tracked down what went wrong and apologized, including the U.S. chairman giving several apologetic interviews with media outlets. The company took the blame without excuses.

3. Nordstrom (Ivanka Trump)

When President Donald Trump lashed out at Nordstrom for dropping daughter Ivanka’s fashion line due to poor sales, the company didn’t lose its cool. It calmly said it had told the Ivanka Trump company about its decision earlier and reiterated that it wasn’t personal, simply business.

4. Tiki Brand (Charlottesville protests)

After white supremacists carried Tiki Brand torches during their August demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, the company was vehement and righteous in rejecting any association with their cause. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive; Facebook users shared the message more than 10,000 times.

5. Chobani (Alex Jones attack)

When shock-jock conspiracy theorist Alex Jones accused Chobani of bringing crime and disease to Twin Falls, Idaho, where the company has a plant, the yogurt maker sued, garnering a ton of media coverage. Less than a month after Chobani filed its legal action, Jones retracted the stories and apologized.

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