It Was One Public Relations Crisis After Another This Week

Jake Neher/WDET

Matt Friedman

It seems like this week has brought one public relations crisis after another.

Pepsi had to pull an ad featuring Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer, apparently defusing tensions between protesters and law enforcement.

United Airlines is under fire after a passenger was removed from a flight beaten and bloody.

And President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer faces calls to resign after saying Hitler never used chemical weapons against his own people, unlike Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

These were not the only examples this week.

What should an administration or corporation do to avoid these blunders? And what’s the best course of action when things like this do happen?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with two PR pros who have been in the business of handling difficult political and corporate situations for years.

I’m not surprised at all that we’re seeing a lot of these things happen at the same time,” says Matt Friedman of the Tanner Friedman PR firm, who specializes in crisis PR. “Because big corporations are now paying the price for mistakes they made during the Great Recession.”

Friedman says businesses cut PR budgets, in part because accountants viewed PR as a “luxury item, not a business necessity.”

Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Ari Adler

Ari Adler is director of communications for Gov. Rick Snyder, and has worked as a spokesperson for a number of prominent Republican politicians in Michigan over the years. He says, in the case of Sean Spicer, his press briefings have probably gone too far off-script.

Sean Spicer… can become a little too comfortable and a little too friendly” in his interactions with the press, says Adler.

Detroit Today caller Mary in Royal Oak observes that the public relations blunders have overshadowed other important news stories this week, including an 8-year-old who has shot and killed in a special needs classroom.

Adler says it’s often easier for people on social media to give traction to stories they can relate to, which feeds into mainstream media coverage.

Everybody can relate to the time you hated an airline for some reason,” he says.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

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