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To say that this year has had its’ fair share of media crises would be an understatement. However with every blunder there is a chance to learn from it. According to an article from Hunter Paynter Communications, here are top 8 media crises of 2014 and lessons we can learn from them:
1. Ferguson, Missouri Protests have become normalcy since the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. There are numerous lessons that can be taken out of this situation as this situation was mishandled for various reasons.
Lessons: The first thing to take from this is simple- do the right thing. One should admit mistakes quickly and apologize. When you’re apologizing you should include what actions you will take to correct the mistakes. Another thing we were reminded of (once again) is the power of social media and that, in these days of social media, visuals matter.
2. Colleges and universities struggle to address sexual violence on campus Big-name schools from throughout the country – most recently the University of Virginia – have been spotlighted in news reports and most college administrations have struggled to respond to sexual violence and Title IX violations.
Lessons: Colleges and universities must do a better job of dealing with these cases and communicating transparently, rather than counting on victims to remain quiet.
3. Texas Presbyterian Hospital diagnosed the first U.S. case of Ebola The first U.S. case of Ebola was handled poorly. Thomas Duncan showed up in the emergency department. Duncan is at first misdiagnosed and sent home, then admitted two days later. Two nurses are later diagnosed with Ebola.
Lessons: When lives are at stake, you must communicate as quickly and as transparently as possible. Provide clear guidance on what to do. If something goes wrong, you must apologize and reassure your stakeholders that you are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
4. Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 In March, while flying from Malaysia to China, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. The plane was filled with 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations.
Lessons: Tell the truth and tell what you know when you know it. Searchers were in the wrong location for days thanks to the government not releasing data. It’s important to provide accurate information, especially when it’s a life and death situation.
5. It took GM more than a decade to correct a faulty ignition switch traced to at least 30 deaths and 31 serious injuries A jostling of or too much weight on the faulty switch caused the ignition to slip from “on” to “accessory” so that air bags and electric steering were deactivated. More than 30 million cars have been recalled because nobody took the problem seriously and did anything about it.
Lessons: GM’s new CEO Mary Barra has done a good job of communicating. She has admitted mistakes, apologized and said what she will do to make sure it never happens again. But she needs to change the culture there so that people can feel comfortable coming forward when a problem exists.
6. The NFL’s botched handling of domestic violence cases TMZ released video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé (now his wife) out of an elevator, Rice was suspended for two games. the videotape of Rice punching his wife inside the elevator and the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. UPDATE: This decision was appealed and eventually won by Rice.
Lessons: Never blame the victim. They showed more concern for winning a football game than they showed for a victim of domestic violence
7. Target’s data breach The aftermath of Target’s data breach (which affected 40 million customers) during the holiday season of 2013 continues even today. Apparently Target did not take action when it received alerts from its security system before the data was stolen.
Lessons: Tell it first. Target didn’t tell its customers until after a blogger revealed the breach weeks later.
8. Ed FitzGerald tried to portray himself as a “victim” News reports revealed that Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio, Ed Fitzgerald, was in a car with another woman in the middle of the night and, worse yet, drove without a valid driver’s license for decades.
Lessons: FitzGerald should have accepted responsibility and apologized. Instead he said in an email that his family was focused on his son’s health issues, not on politics. Using a child’s illness to distract from your own wrongdoing is offensive to anyone smart enough to see through the tactic.