Get to know ICMC 2019 speaker, Molly McPherson!
Molly McPherson will be presenting, “The New Rules of Reputation Management: Best Practices for Determining If, When and How to Respond to a Crisis That Blows Up on Social,” at ICMC 2019 on May 1st.
We recently asked Molly a few questions about corporate crisis communications and New England!
1. Name one recent corporate crisis that stands out for you and why?
As someone who tracks crisis communications daily, settling on one corporate crisis is difficult because there are so many nowadays and they all stand out for different reasons. The crises I gravitate towards usually involve organizations that operate without full transparency or are weak on governance policies.
- Boeing Aircraft’s stock and reputation plummeting after reports over whether the approval process for the company’s 737 Max jetliner was flawed after two deadly crashes of the new aircraft.
- Dozens of the nation’s elite colleges under massive scrutiny after the F.B.I. uncovered the biggest case of admissions fraud they had ever investigated with 50 people accused in a scheme that involved paying bribes to coaches and to admission test monitors to fraudulently admit children of wealthy, connected parents.
- Widespread mistrust and outrage at Roman Catholic dioceses around the country individually accused of covering for priests who were suspected of sexual abuse and misconduct, primarily with young boys.
Each crisis was exacerbated by the organization not revealing information or operating without transparency. A company navigating an issue by shading the truth during this time in our call-out or outrage culture is deadly. The power is no longer in the hands of the press, it’s in the hands of the public.
2. Why should corporate communications teams validate their plans and teams through tabletop exercises?
Practice does make perfect, but it also prevents a lot of damage. Whether it’s an MLB pitcher warming up in the bullpen or an opera singer warming up with vocal exercises. It’s the run-throughs that are critical to performing at your highest levels. Training for a crisis is no different. Tabletop exercises are essential for executing solid crisis management plans. The throughs of a crisis is not the best time to be doing any crisis strategy for the first time. When I worked in public affairs at FEMA headquarters, the simulated crisis exercises post-Hurricane Katrina allowed everyone at the agency to work in a coordinated and measured way that helped identify the strengths, and even more important, the gaps in the departments. No matter the season – wildfire, hurricane or tornado – our public affairs team was prepared for anything.
3. What’s your favorite New England beach and why?
Living in New England means I could never, ever choose one beach. The list of amazing beaches is long, but if I had to choose two: Seapoint Beach in Kittery, Maine for walks with my Portuguese Water Dog, Finbar. And any spot from Surfside to Miacomet in Nantucket after a summer run on a sunny day.