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A Good Answer To “Can You Guarantee This Won’t Happen Again?”

After a crisis or negative incident, many reporters ask a variation of this question: “Can you guarantee this will never happen again?”

The problem with that question is that life offers no guarantees—and no matter what procedures you put into place, there’s usually a chance the negative incident could re-occur. And yet, saying that in an interview can be used against you.

In this post, you’ll see the founder of Chipotle doing a nice job of answering this question — and one place he could have done even better.

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How To Know If You Have An “Issue” Or A “Crisis”

Far too often, executives and PR professionals get confused by the difference between an issue and a crisis. This confusion itself is a risk.

To be crisis ready, your team needs to be able to instinctively identify the true potential impact of a given situation and take the appropriate steps to either respond or escalate it internally.

Fortunately, crises have some clear characteristics which, when you know what they are, you can frame as questions to help your team quickly assess the potential impact of a negative situation. Here’s what you need to know.

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The 3 Things That Make A Crisis Go Viral

What makes an issue or crisis go viral? What three elements are typically found in the stories that get shared, retweeted, and liked, often by many thousands of people? What signs should organizations be aware of to gauge whether their issue is about to become a crisis that threatens their reputation? And what does “going viral” even mean?

In this guest post from Melissa Agnes’s excellent new book, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, you’ll find answers to those questions — along with a detailed example from two international tragedies that received much different levels of attention.

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The Humane Society’s Silence On CEO’s Alleged Sexual Harassment

The Humane Society of the United States—an animal welfare group known for its advocacy against factory farming, puppy mills, and the fur trade—almost certainly has a donor and employee base particularly attuned to the #MeToo movement.

So when Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and CEO, was accused of several allegations of sexual misconduct, it presented an especially difficult challenge for the group.

Yesterday, the Humane Society’s board voted to keep Pacelle. Seven board members quit immediately in protest. What was a reputational risk yesterday has just become a major crisis.

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If You’re In a Pothole, Don’t Dig A Sinkhole! | Crisis Communications

You’ve probably heard this classic crisis communications chestnut: “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

Put another way, if you’ve already driven into a bumpy pothole, you must avoid turning it into a massive sinkhole that swallows your reputation.

Every crisis is different, but I’ve repeatedly seen certain patterns play out that unnecessarily turn potholes into sinkholes. This post breaks down five of the most common—and while some of these crises began as something much larger than a pothole, they were made that much worse by a bad response.

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“This Is Us” Actor Sparks A Fat Suit Controversy

On Tuesday nights, my wife and I look forward to NBC’s This Is Us, a tenderly written drama that tells one family’s story over two generations.

One of the most lovable characters is Toby (Chris Sullivan), who plays the partner to one of the family’s three siblings. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s relevant to note that both characters are overweight—and their struggles with weight make up a big part of their characters’ narratives.

When some fans learned that Sullivan wears a “fat suit,” a mini social media storm ensued. In this post, I look at four of his media messages in response: three good, one bad.

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Joel Osteen’s Hurricane Response: Days Late And Dollars Short

It’s an indelible image: the wealthy televangelist who fleeces parishioners with an inspiring message while emptying their pockets. Anyone who remembers Jimmy Swaggart tearfully confessing to his sins or Jim Bakker’s scandalous affair has seen a pious religious leader who wasn’t everything they presented themselves to be.

Fairly or not, critics of Joel Osteen—the Houston-based senior pastor of Lakewood Church—accused him of matching that archetype earlier this week for his apparent reluctance to immediately house victims of Hurricane Harvey. Here’s where he went wrong.

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How To Win When You’re Ranked Dead Last

I often get emails from readers saying something like this: “I know you post a lot of media disasters. Do you have a good example of a spokesperson doing things right?”

We’ve posted many good interviews through the years—but since there’s such interest in the topic, I wanted to post one of my favorites, a May 2013 interview with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza.

At the time, his airline had been ranked last in customer satisfaction by Consumer Reports. Few executives want to go on television to defend such a dismal ranking—but Baldanza appeared energized by the challenge.

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