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December 10, 2012
A reputation management and crisis PR strategist says both 2Day FM and King Edward VII Hospital should have foreseen negative outcomes resulting from their respective actions in the prank call tragedy.
In a blog www.mercer-pr.blogspot.com.au – Mercer PR Principal Lyall Mercer wrote that while the tragic result could never have been predicted, both companies failed to properly evaluate the risks.
He also believes many other companies make similar poor decisions without understanding the increased risks of doing business in a “new world” of social and digital media.
“The general public can now play a direct role in crises, from providing information, to blasting people and companies on social media and bombarding businesses with vitriolic emails,” he said.
Mr Mercer regularly works with corporate, legal and political clients and coordinated the international crisis PR for 16 year old American round-the-world sailor Abby Sunderland after she was rescued off Australia in 2010.
He said the royal prank call from all sides was a PR disaster waiting to happen.
“It is beyond belief that the King Edward VII Hospital did not have a policy in place to protect one of the world’s most famous people. Their public relations team should have known that at the very least, any breach would be quickly picked up in a world of social media.”
He also believes 2Day FM should have read the future better.
“A hospital is not the place for a prank call. Did they ever consider that while hospital staff were spending time talking to them, other people in the hospital may have needed medical assistance? Did they really think that a place that treats sick people and saves lives is a target for humor?”
Mercer said that just like the radio station and hospital, many companies are too “insulated”, relying on advice “from people on the inside who wear the same blinkers” instead of seeking outside, professional input.