The Corporate Banana Peel

Today’s entry is based on one of the 20 case studies in my position paper, “Beyond the Bottom Line: 20 Ways to Reduce Reputational Risk.”

The risk

Your media training workshop was a disaster, so your spokespeople proved unprepared for the launch of your hot, new product.

The Background

There goes all that hard work that was supposed to result in massive profits for your company. Your C-suite was banking on your new product saving it from your firm’s recent moribund financial performance.

Your stock price continues to tumble. Your research and development staff is scrambling to find something—anything—else that might stem the flow of red ink. Your sales team is frantically scouring the back of the closet for anything with a prayer of resulting in new deals. Nothing is working. Your company is in for a long, tough slog.

Guy head in hand

The Reputational Costs

Your competitors were on edge upon hearing rumors of your new offering. Word on the street was it could be a game-changer in your industry.

And it all fell apart because your CEO, division president, vice presidents, and corporate communications staff got the messaging wrong. It proved weak and contradictory. Worse yet, everyone was singing from different pages of the songbook when explaining the innovation to reporters. The resulting news clips were a jumble of jargon and mixed messages.

This confusion could have been avoided with a rigorous series of media training workshops. Sadly for you, you tried to cut corners on your budget by settling for a one-and-done session with a PR generalist rather than the sustained program recommended by the experienced hand of a bona fide communications training consultant.

Recommended Action

  1. You may able to save face to some degree by reorienting your launch campaign. No question it’s going to be a daunting challenge, so you’ll need help from two sources of expertise: 1) An experienced crisis management expert and 2) a veteran media training consultant. To find these experts, see “A Buyer’s Guide to Communications Training Consultants.”
  2. The research report The Lasting Effects of Media Training: Lifelong Learning or Temporary Phenomenon? outlines how to earn the long-term benefits such a program should deliver.

Someone fell down on the job here. Was it your communications staff? A miserly budget bureaucrat? A cheap CEO? The inept freelancer you hired? Take a cold-eyed look at what went wrong, who bears responsibility, and fix it so it doesn’t happen again.



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