Learning SM

Love me my social media. In fact, I read today that…

In fact I love this video


Final Post – Vitaveeta-what?

Well, we’ve come to the end of our online discussions this semester. I enjoyed all the aspects of Crisis Communication we’ve been discussing and I hope you have too. For your final post you need to research the crisis with Marmite.

Yes, Marmite.

Now I’m sure the first thing you will do is go to Google and you’ll see articles dating back to 2000. I’m looking for the most recent crisis, within the last month or so.

What I want you to do:(remember each of you can only choose one bullet point below so there is not repetition of responses)

  • tell us what kind of crisis this is,
  • who is the parent company and how are they responding,
  • how are New Zealanders are being updated,
  • in a case like this, what would be the most effective mode of communication,
  • is the response by the parent company sufficient,
  • write your own response to the crisis,
  • tell me how you would have handled this crisis- what steps would you have taken, and
  • how should the company plan going forward?

Have fun 🙂

Week 10 Discussion 9

Last night a Tornado blew through Dexter, MI. People lost homes, local devastation hit a small town.

Using what you have learned in class write a possible response that could be used to update the public.

No duplicates -you can take the point of view of:

Local politician – such as the Mayor’s office

FEMA or Red Cross

Animal Shelters

Farm Associations

Sheriff’s office

Business Council

Only one: Washtenaw, Monroe or Lapeer county official

Michigan State Health System



Why Susan G. Komen Could Use a Cure for a Crisis…

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is not only the nation’s largest breast cancer charity but one of the most well-known and well-loved nonprofit organizations. So what’s got its longtime supporters quitting the race and calling them a disgrace? Read on.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012, Planned Parenthood broke the news that the Komen Foundation would be cutting their funding to their Planned Parenthood affiliates. The $680,000 in funding being cut would have been used by Parenthood to provide breast cancer screenings for 170,000 low-income women. Komen then revealed that the new policies they were putting in place would not allow them to fund any organizations under investigation. Planned Parenthood, the country’s most prominent sexual and reproductive health care provider, is currently in the middle of an investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL regarding government money possibly being spent on abortions.

Background Bit: Last December, rumor spread that Komen and Planned Parenthood were in talks to cut their ties, but Komen denied the reports. Hmmm…

Extra! Extra! Tweet All About It!

Within minutes the firestorm had begun. Social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, became a battle ground for pro-choice and anti-abortion activists.  Check out the numbers below (source: antseyeview.com):

  • 1.3M+ tweets referencing Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood
  • 20 posts per minute on the corporate page of the Komen Foundation
  • The ratio of negative to positive Komen tweets immediately following the incident was averaging 80 to 1
  • 10,000 comments on the Komen Facebook page. Check out the chart below for more information on Komen’s Facebook activity.

Chart courtesy of banyanbranches.com

Longtime supporters of Komen were appalled by the decision and immediately withdrew their support for the foundation. Planned Parenthood was “shocked and disappointed” about the decision and believed Komen had succumbed to the political pressures of anti-abortion activists. That day, Parenthood sent out this fundraising email to their supporters asking for help to fill the void from the loss of funds.

Many accused Karen Handel, Komen’s VP of public policy, of using this decision to support her own beliefs. This speculation came from her interviews in April 2011, when she stated several times that she was pro-life and anti-Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile at Komen,…*crickets* Even though their presence was missing from the ongoing conversation, several commenters claimed Komen was deleting negative posts and tweets from their social media accounts. It wouldn’t be until the next morning that Komen would actually update their own accounts. How could have Komen used social media to direct the conversations during their “golden minutes”?

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012: Social Media – 187,248,572,852,085  Komen – Zip

Eventually, Komen made an appearance on Twitter, but it did nothing to extinguish the fire. When someone questioned their decision, they replied, “We make decisions based on what we need to do to serve women and find treatments, not on emotional, political or any other grounds,” with a link to their press release. For those who showed support for their decision, they received praise from the company. What do these types of responses tell the public? At one point, Komen tweeted a link to a blog post called Pro-Cure. Why do you think Komen wanted to direct people to this blog post?

Komen declined to do interviews with any major television networks or newspapers. Instead, they released their own *video, featuring Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker, in response to the increasing criticism and the “mischaracterization” of their decision. Unfortunately, it was already too late. Not only did the public attack Komen’s inactive Twitter and Facebook accounts, but they began to boycott the battery company, Energizer. Why? The last update on Komen’s Facebook page was an announcement about their new sponsors. Who were the new sponsors? You guessed it, Energizer. This crisis was not just affecting Komen’s image but the companies associated with them as well.

*In a not so transparent move, Komen removed their original response video from YouTube, so please watch this short video instead.

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood was granting interviews with everyone who asked. Compare Komen’s response to this interview with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.

Photo courtesy of theatlantic.com

By this time, Parenthood had already raised $650,000 from 6000 donors in only 24 hours. This was exceptional for the organization that normally only received 100 donations a day. Komen’s donations also went up, but they would not release any figures.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012: Bye, Bye, Bye!

As the criticism grew, it seems the Komen team was getting smaller. First, the foundation saw the departure of Komen’s top health official, Mollie Williams along with the executive director of Komen’s Los Angeles County chapter, Deb Anthony. Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of Komen’s New York chapter, didn’t resign but threatened to if the decision was not reversed.

Around the nation, Planned Parenthood affiliates began receiving emails like the one below. What do you think was the purpose of this email?

Email courtesy of Rose Mary Bonacchi

Meanwhile on Twitter, Handel retweeted this statement from @JadeMorey. As expected she received a lot of backlash. She deleted the tweet, but by that time it had already been screen capped and put on every blog. This further fueled rumors that Handel’s beliefs were a major influence in the decision to end funding.

Friday, Feb. 3, 2012: Oh, You Thought We Were Serious?

After three days of heavy backlash, withdrawal of support and a slowly deteriorating image, Komen reversed their decision and said they would revise their policy. The new policy would only exclude funding for organizations under “criminal investigation.”  Here’s the complete statement, apology and Planned Parenthood’s response to the reverse and apology. Despite the apology and reversal, Komen never promised that Parenthood’s grant’s would be renewed, only that they could reapply.

List courtesy of yahoo.com

Within hours of this announcement, pro-life activists headed to Komen’s Twitter and Facebook and voiced their displeasure with the reversed decision.There is absolutely no doubt that the harsh push from the collective voice of social media was the reason behind Komen’s reverse decision. Just look at the top 28 hashtags used during the crisis. Should Komen have caved to the pressure? What could have been done so that the initial decision didn’t have to be reversed?

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012: Exit, Stage Right

Photo courtesy of theblissindex.blogspot.com

Since news broke, Planned Parenthood has raised more than $3 million and Komen’s VP of Public Policy Karen Handel, has resigned. Read Handel and Komen’s statements about the resignation. Would do you think about Handel’s role in this crisis and her reason for resignation?  Was she right to resign?



So, can Komen come back from this? You’re on their PR team, what are you going to do to regain the trust of your consumers? Use the questions throughout the post and below to help formulate your answer.

Now that the divide between Komen and Parenthood supporters has been brought to the forefront, how can Komen bring the two sides back together to continue the unified fight against breast cancer?

As a nonprofit, are the stakes higher regarding the trust of consumers?

Are there any cases you can think of that are similar to this one, where the voices on social media have made a difference?

Referring to the five stages of a crisis, how does Komen measure up?

Was Komen transparent?

How do you feel about the denied rumors in December and the news later being announced by Planned Parenthood instead of Komen?

One company’s crisis is another company’s fundraiser. How do you feel about Planned Parenthood’s actions during Komen’s crisis?

Do you think the use of social media to ‘take down’ big corporations and organizations is going to become a trend?

Of Child Porn and Men: U-M Hospital has double-whammy crisis

Not every organization can control what its employees do. There’s crises that involve the actions of a sole person, and there’s crises that involve the actions (or lack thereof) of the organization.

Then there’s the crisis at the University of Michigan hospital.

Last May, a resident physician at U-M hospital found a thumb drive left in an employee lobby computer. She wanted to make sure to return it to whichever co-worker it belonged to, so she clicked through folders to find whose it might have been. Instead of finding a name, she found graphic images of nude children.

Stephen Jensen

Stephen Jensen, also a resident physician, was found (six months later) to have child porn not only on his left-behind thumb drive, but also at this house and on his computer. Read the details here:

U-M resident physician had child porn at hospital and home, police say

Enter crisis one: A U-M hospital physician (who is also in pediatrics, but police say there’s no foul play there) is charged with having copious amounts of child pornography.
It doesn’t end there, however. The original report, which was submitted by the resident physician who found the flash drive in May, was swept under the rug within a week. She was told there wasn’t enough evidence to continue with an investigation, and the hospital DID NOT notify police.

Jensen continued to see patients, including children, for over six months.

Read the below article to get a sense of what exactly happened:

University of Michigan officials didn’t report child porn to police for 6 months

Check out a TV report from WXYZ Detroit here. (Having trouble embedding the video!)

So, we have a physician accused of having child pornography, which went six months without being exposed, then the hospital finally reports the claim to police. And it’s still not over.

Enter crisis two: The six-month lapse in reporting the issue to police.

It was later reported, after the hospital released the time frame of the events, that over ten people, including administrators and a regent, knew about the thumb drive’s images and who was logged in at the time (Jensen).

Please read the timeline: http://www.annarbor.com/news/crime/timeline/

Also see the administration’s reaction to the six-month time lapse:

University of Michigan regent calls six-month lapse in reporting child porn ‘extraordinarily disappointing’

U-M Health System CEO calls delay in reporting child porn ‘painful moment in our history’

As if this wasn’t enough bad news for the hospital, there was another report about the internal confusion with security and their relationship with police officials. Security officers were identifying themselves as law enforcement and even routing 911 calls to their own offices, not to an outside agency.

Security or police? Unclear role at University of Michigan hospital contributed to child porn reporting delay

Here is where you, as one of the PR practitioners for U-M hospital, must step in. There’s two major things to consider: the crisis of having a pediatric physician found with child pornography, and the lack of urgency on the administration’s side with reporting coupled with the security debacle.

How can you regain the trust of the citizens of Ann Arbor, and the nation, after this ordeal?

Did hospital administration seem transparent?

Were there any prodromes for either crisis? If so, what could they have done to prevent this?

What changes could be made to have a more clear role of hospital security and how they interact with police?

How do you think the U-M hospital admin SHOULD have acted? Was there anything you think they did correctly?

Is Apple Going Rotten?

For our crisis discussion, we chose to look at the crisis Apple is having from the unsafe working conditions at its factories in China.

Lately, Apple has received negative press for the working conditions at its Foxconn factory.  Workers allegedly only make pennies a hour, work extremely long hours and perform the same tasks thousands of times over and over.

Here is a video of an interview with one of the workers who discusses what it’s like to work for Foxconn:

Working conditions have been so harsh that they are thought to be the cause of several reported employee suicides.  With the revelation of these harsh conditions, Apple has come under fire.  Click here for an article from the New York Times that exposed the issue.

In 2005, Apple executives made a code of conduct for their suppliers. This code was supposed to prevent this kind of unethical treatment of employees from happening at any factory that worked for them.  The New York Times article pointed out that although Apple’s own annual audits of the Chinese factories showed that the code was being violated, the company seemed to ignore the reports.  What type of position does this put Apple’s PR team in?  Can the PR team do anything to save the image of this company who has broken its own code of ethics?  Click here for an interesting look at Apple’s recent audits.

Although this crisis has been linked specifically to Apple, Foxconn also makes electronics for other companies.  Is it fair that Apple is being solely targeted by the press?  Also, these revelations have brought out another broader issue—overall working conditions in China.  Should Apple have to defend itself for a matter that may be a cultural or national issue in China?  Or should they take a stand against this unethical treatment of employees, considering they are one of the most influential companies in the world? 

Protests of Apple have accelerated recently and it’s obvious that this story isn’t going to fade away in the press.  Protesters have started to hold demonstrations in front of Apple stores and offices.  Protesting hackers have even hacked into Foxconn’s network and caused havoc for the Apple supplier.  These protesters want people to ask themselves this question:  Would you still buy your smart phone or tablet if you knew the conditions in which it was made?  What can the PR team at Apple do to respond to the protesters?  Is there anything they can do?

photo courtesy of lovefortech.com

As of yet, Apple has not formally responded to this imminent crisis.  As we have learned, it is imperative for companies to make a statement about a crisis, as staying silent usually implies some sort of guilt.  As you can see here, Apple has done things differently when it handled crises in the past.  Do you think Apple can continue to deal with crises in this unique fashion, or is this going to come back to bite them sooner or later?

So far, the only “response” has come in the form of a leaked email from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Here is the link to the leaked email.  Do you think this email was leaked intentionally? Is this response enough, or should Apple have made a more definitive public statement?
It appears that the majority of news coverage is attacking Apple.  Although the coverage should probably be targeting the entire electronics/smartphone industry, Apple’s lack of a response seems to be adding fuel to the crisis fire.  Do you agree or disagree?  Also, if you were a PR practitioner for Apple, what type of response would you have made?  Do you agree with how they have handled it so far?

Sam Plymale and Laura Taylor

Pfizer’s Birth Control Recall

We decided to do our analysis on the current crisis in the media regarding the recent recall of Pfizer’s birth control pills.

Here is some background information on the company:

Pfizer’s has been the dominant force in the pharmaceutical business for several years now. Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol are not their only products but Pfizer has created every product that ranges from Advil to Viagra, creating over 40 products, which distributes to over 10 countries. Current CEO Ian Read has been CEO for less than 3 years currently but has been with the company for over 30 years. Pfizer’s success has been dominant in many way’s creating several mergers, which led to their billion dollar status, along with the success with each of their divisions, which include Human Health and Animal Health divisions.

Please read the following press release that was issued on Pfizer’s website:


Please also watch the following video from the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall:


Please watch this video on coverage of the story: http://www.newschannel5.com/global/video/flash/popupplayer.asp?ClipID1=6702763&h1=Pfizer%20recalls%201M%20birth%20control%20packs%20after%20mix-up&vt1=v&at1=News%20-%20AP-National&d1=91667&LaunchPageAdTag=News%20-%20AP-National&activePane=info&rnd=96416775

Finally, please watch this video which briefly talks about the last recall: http://www.newsy.com/videos/pfizer-recalls-more-than-one-million-birth-control-packs/

By reading and watching the above links you should get a pretty good idea of what’s going on. Pfizer came to the conclusion that there were 30 packs of birth control pills that received an inaccurate count and as a result of that there were one million packs that were removed from shelves. Pfizer also notified the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The media and news were notified and the word spread so that the public was aware. They recommended that women who have been using these pills should consult with their physician and begin using a non-hormonal barrier method immediately. Women were also advised to return the product immediately. Chief Medical Officer, Freda Lewis-Hall, did a video that explained the mix up and gave advice on how it should be handled. Medical experts are saying that this incident should remind woman how imperative it is to keep up with the your birth control pills and to make sure they are taking the right one’s on the right days. It seems as if there were not any big apology or anything that was said to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again, Pfizer is just giving the impression that it was a mistake and it won’t happen again. The emphasis is mainly on the recall and seeing a physician if the pills were used

Pfizer made comments like:

“Because of our high quality standards”

“Patients are our first priority & here at Pfizer we’re committed to serving quality medicines”

“We understand that this news can be very concerning and confusing for any women who take birth control pills”

“We share your concerns”

“Want to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information”

All of these statements make Pfizer sound like they really care about their customers and a company to count on but if you compare the video to the articles and press release, you might have noticed a different fact that jumps out at us. Dr. Lewis-Hall states in the video that “if you are a women who’s been taking Lo/Overal – 28 or Lo/Ovral-28 tablets or generic Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets over that last several months, to please consult with your physician.” This says that they don’t know exactly when this started but they do know, as stated in the news release, video and articles that it was because of a visual inspection and mechanical error. So because a human visually inspected incorrectly or have the machine checked effectively this error occurred. In the last video, you hear about another birth control recall that happened in September. Qualitest Pharmaceuticals recalled 1.4 million birth control pills due to a different packaging error. Pfizer just conducted that one video from Dr. Lewis-Hall and the Press Release.

In your opinion, how does all of this information on this situation make Pfizer look? By using the five stages of a crisis, please explain what you believe Pfizer did right or wrong. Do you think they should of addressed the public more than just a press release and statement on the issue? Do you believe that Pfizer owes women who were using this product an apology? If so, what else could they have done or said? What do you think the outcome of this recall will be on the products itself? If you were the PR Professional would you do anything different? If so, what?