Peak Communicators
January 21, 2014

Media Coverage of Meltdown

You can’t beat the drama and emotion in sports. The media coverage surrounding the drama makes it even more entertaining.

Since the Vancouver Canucks’ coach John Tortorella lost it going after Calgary Flames’ coach Bob Hartley on Hockey Night in Canada last weekend, it has been a field day for sports commentators and the water cooler topic for hockey fans.

Some say that as the bench boss and leader of team, the coach demonstrated intense passion. He had his players’ backs. Others feel it was a big sideshow that has no place in professional sports. The debate continues.

The league showed it was an activity they did not approve of. The coach is banished from working for the next 15 days which includes six hockey games.

Kudos to Vancouver’s local CBC-TV newsroom for its story, which I felt had the most refreshing observation about Tortorella. To quote commentator, Alistair Moes:

“It was like the end of the world. It would make sense for a three-year-old, but not so much for a 55-year-old. Look what happens when you have a temper tantrum. When you lose it, no one listens to what you have to say to them. They just ridicule you and make fun of you.”

Mr. Moes is a Vancouver-based anger management expert.

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July 11, 2013

Calgary Flood Puts Emergency Communications Plan to the Test

calgary flood #2It will take years to recover from the devastating flood that hit Calgary and Southern Alberta in late June.  Many communities will never be the same. Others suffered so much damage they may never be rebuilt.  Yet despite all the destruction, now estimated at over $5 billion, only four people died.  It could have been a lot worse if not for a well-executed emergency communications plan keeping residents informed.  Social media and traditional media played a vital role in that plan.

During the worst of it, as the rain poured down and rising rivers flooded one community after another along with the downtown, the zoo and Stampede Park, Twitter became an essential information lifeline for thousands of people.  With no electricity, residents in affected communities used Twitter for real time information.  Mayor Naheed Nenshi was constantly Tweeting to his tens of thousands of followers and the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), Calgary Police Service, Calgary Fire

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Department and other essential services used Twitter extensively to update flood conditions, coordinate evacuations, provide road closure status and even direct people to emergency shelters.  Facebook sites were used to draft volunteers and muster resources and supplies.  The flood clearly demonstrated how effective and efficient social media is at disseminating information during an emergency.

Calgary’s news media and in particular the TV stations really came through when it counted.  As the flood situation worsened, Global, CTV and CBC affiliates broke into programming and provided wall-to-wall flood coverage for almost 48 hours.  As part of its communications strategy, CEMA held frequent media updates and used the media as an information conduit.  Mayor Nenshi and officials from CEMA, police and fire were readily available for media interviews.  The coverage was critical in keeping the community informed, especially the hundreds of evacuees crowded around TV sets at the emergency relief centres trying to find out if they still had a home to go back to.

Now that the clean-up is underway and thousands of people work to put their lives back in order they can at least be assured that  Calgary has an excellent emergency communication plan in place.

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January 17, 2012

FedEx Caught on Camera

You may have seen the shocking YouTube video of a FedEx delivery man throwing a computer monitor over a customer’s gate, uploaded in December.

Within 24 hours, it had received 200,000 views. The story then featured in the Daily Mail and the number of views soared to 4.5 million. Today, the total stands at over 8 million and it has been ‘liked’ 17,000 times.

So how did FedEx deal with the situation?

In the first statement, FedEx condemned the employee’s actions, stating that executives were ‘shocked’. They said the handling of the package was ‘unacceptable’ and vowed to track down the employee responsible.

This is a good initial response. FedEx probably learnt about the incident at the same time as the press so they wouldn’t have had time to investigate. FedEx was also right not to protect the employee; instead they distanced the company’s brand from the individual’s actions.

FedEx’s next move was smart. They created a YouTube video in response – within 48 hours. The speed of their response was critical, helping curb speculation about the incident.

In the video Matthew Thornton, Senior VP at FedEx, said they had met with and apologized to the customer. The company deserves kudos for this; in difficult situations, companies typically communicate with customers via telephone or in writing. Meeting face-to-face is personal and proves FedEx cares about its customers.

Thornton also answered the question everyone asked: what happened to the employee? He explained ‘they’re working within their disciplinary procedures and the employee is not working with customers’. This is a mediocre response. Customers and journalists alike wanted reassurance that the guilty party had been fired. I suspect HR procedures prevented FedEx from providing a stronger response.

Thornton then reminded viewers that the company’s motto is to ‘make every FedEx experience outstanding’. This is good; he uses a difficult situation to reinforce the company’s key messages and its commitment to customers.

Despite this, the footage still damaged the company’s reputation – and consequently it was listed by Forbes as the ‘most brand-damaging viral video of 2011’.

FedEx’s YouTube video also received less than half a million views, a sixteenth of the original video. Clearly bad news travels faster than good.

This incident won’t go away for FedEx and any reoccurring issues will be closely watched by the public eye. However, FedEx can be commended for responding quickly, using YouTube as the channel to respond and meeting the customer face-to-face.

What are your thoughts on FedEx’s response?

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