The Three Most Interesting Crises of 2018 – and Why!

    

iStock-859593814We are biased – we are a little obsessed with the world of crisis management.

However, in many respects, 2018 has been a doozy for a dizzying array of a new kind of issues, threats and risks.

Here’s our pick of the three most interesting crises of this year:

#1: The wave of sexual misconduct charges

What happened: When we first wrote about this issue in a January blog, we talked about a wave of famous men, Harvey Weinstein being the original poster-child, who were facing accusations of sexual misconduct. That wave has not abated since and has even caught up a few famous women as well, accused of being sexual predators.

Why it is interesting: Men in leadership positions in all walks of life are being held accountable for their behavior towards those who work with and for them. And while legally there may be a statute of limitations, there is no time limit on damage to reputation. The incidents may have happened a long time ago – but in the new era of responsibility, the bad behavior may still be raised and publicized. Your crisis planning for 2019 must address this as a possible threat.

#2: Facebook (and Fake News)

What happened: We blogged about Fake News in July and, just like the #MeToo movement, the issue has only gained in momentum since. Fake news is a complicated idea – it’s not just the facts of the story that causes it to be addressed as ‘Fake’. Studies show it is also the source of the news story and why that topic was chosen over any other for the news report that lead people to dub a story as ‘false news’.

Why it is interesting: The concept of ‘Fake News’ is a challenge for crisis communicators – that much was clear from our visit to the PRSA national conference in October. It can be a huge hurdle to overcome in getting the true story established among your stakeholders. What makes it even more complicated is that Facebook itself is now under sustained attack, from issues ranging from how effective it has been at removing the more obvious untrue posts on its platform – through to its own clumsy PR efforts to manipulate its own image. The Facebook/Fake News phenomena is only going to get more difficult in 2019!

#3: KFC & the shortage of chicken:

What happened: One of the great crisis turnaround stories of the year. It began when the UK KFC operation had to close more than half its 900 stores because it ran out of chicken. It ended with KFC’s response receiving in June one of the most coveted awards in marketing, a Cannes Golden Lion.

Why it is interesting: KFC followed one of the new golden rules of crisis management, be true to your brand and your relationship with consumers even when under threat:

That simple re-arrangement of the letters of the brand, only reinforced KFC’s loyalty among their followers and helped them move on quickly from the crisis.

A wonderful example of crisis management to inspire us all in 2019!

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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.