The round-up of 2018’s best crisis management case studies (part three)

     

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In Case of Crisis is sponsoring a review of the past year in crisis management, published by the leading public relations newsletter ‘The Holmes Report’.

Check out our blogs on parts one and two of the Holmes Crisis Review.

Part three of the Crisis Review: The Top 20 Crises of 2018 assesses the lessons learned from issues faced by Pret-a-Manger, Lactalis, Goldman Sachs, H&M, Scofflaw, and Crockpot.

Pret-a-Manger’s ongoing food labelling and allergen crisis tops the list as a litany of lessons on what NOT to do when your organization is facing a major threat to your reputation.  

Following the 2016 death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating a baguette from Pret that had no allergen information on the packaging, the sandwich chain took over two years to address the incident and change its approach to food labelling.

In late 2017, Lactalis, one of the largest dairy companies in the world, discovered salmonella contamination in one of its factories that led to a recall. However, many stores continued to sell the recalled product. Lactalis was accused of attempting to hide the salmonella contamination and it left the public feeling unsure about all Lactalis products.

Malaysia's 1MDB scheme, which siphoned billions of dollars out of a state investment fund, led to questions about blue chip Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs' role in the affair.

Goldman Sachs is under investigation in the US, Singapore and Malaysia, after the investment bank served as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1MDB. Despite an apology to the Malaysian people from Goldman’s CEO David Solomon, the lingering distrust in this iconic banking institution is likely to have lasting consequences.

H&M experienced the wrath of social media when it released an ad featuring a black child modeling a sweatshirt reading “coolest monkey in the jungle”.  

Within two days, H&M pulled the sweatshirt and the ad, issued an apology and promised that steps would be taken to prevent future racial insensitivity. In the aftermath, H&M showed sincerity in its promise when it appointed Annie Wu to lead a global diversity and inclusion team at its Stockholm headquarters.

In September 2018, Scofflaw, an Atlanta based brewing company, apparently issued a press release to UK journalists promising supporters of President Trump free beer to celebrate the partnership between Scofflaw and Brewdog in the UK.

Scofflaw quickly published a statement saying that the press release was distributed without the company's knowledge or approval.

Frank, Scofflaw’s PR agency, publicly apologized to Scofflaw and placed blame on an individual employee. Brewdog bounced back quickly by cancelling the planned joint event and offered free beer to “anyone who stands for love over hate.”

Finally, the 2018 review wraps up with the remarkable controversy faced by the appliance firm, Crockpot, and the company’s wonderful response.

In January 2018 NBC aired a “This is Us” episode in which the Crockpot is incriminated in the death of the beloved character, Jack Pearson.



In response, Crock-Pot launched its first-ever Twitter account and used its Facebook page to join the conversation, without blaming others or over-reacting.

The brand also issued a technical response attesting to Crock-Pot’s long-standing high safety standards.

Crockpot’s deft handling of the incident enhanced its reputation and showed others how it is done!

That’s it for the 2018 Crisis Review.

2019 is already rich in crises – we will see which make the Holmes Report’s list next year.

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About The Author

Mike Hatcliffe is founder and president of The Hatcliffe Group, a reputation, issues and crisis consultancy. Previously, Mike spent nearly 25 years with two of the world's leading PR agencies. Most recently, he spent 10 years at Ogilvy, as managing director of its US corporate practice, and before that 14 years with Ketchum in both the US and the UK. Mike has worked on crisis and reputation assignments with a range of blue chip companies, leaders in their fields, including LG Electronics, Wells Fargo, Carlsberg, Zebra Technologies, CDW, Quintiles, Rockwell Automation, Unilever, Pepsico, Deloitte, Grant Thornton and HSBC.