Crisis Management: Volkswagen Sees Recovery from Emissions Scandal

volkswagen emissions scandal PR response

The Volkswagen BUDD-e, an Internet-connected electric concept car, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Image source:

Volkswagen’s emissions testing scandal last autumn was so severe some observers said it threatened to send the company to the junkyard. But Volkswagen now believes it has turned a corner and hopes to speed away from the crisis, leaving it behind in the smog (sorry about that).

Volkswagen suffered its worst-ever annual loss of €1.58 billion last year following revelations that its employees had faked diesel engine emissions tests. In a settlement with U.S. regulators and car owners, the Volkswagen agreed to repair or buy back 482,000 vehicles that do not meet emissions standards. The company announced that it set aside €16.2 billion ($18.32 billion) to fund the recall of millions of cars, legal claims and related costs.

Volkswagen executives and investors believe it has already suffered the worst of the crisis and it can begin its financial recovery. Although costs of the settlement are still undetermined, VW believes they will be less than analysts’ worst-case scenarios. It passed Toyota as the top selling auto maker for the first quarter this year and its leaders predict robust business performance this year. Continue reading


How to Create Fantastic Webinars that Deliver Kick-Ass Results

tips for producing webinars

Image source: Performative

Webinars are an effective yet underutilized marketing technique. Webinars can overcome geographic and time constraints, connect with customers, educate customers, generate qualified leads, and establish your organization as an authority in its industry.

Surprisingly, only 31 percent of marketers hold webinars, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2C Content Marketing survey, while 93 percent utilize social media content, 80 percent use e-newsletters, 74 percent produce videos, and 67 percent have a corporate or brand blog. Marketers may avoid webinars because they are time-consuming to produce. Some may fear their technical aspects; others may dread speaking to a large audience.

These are tips from PR and marketing experts that can help you develop and hold successful webinars that attract attendees and generate interest in your company’s products. Continue reading


Media Monitoring & Measurement: Essential Tools in PR Crises

media monitoring & measurement for PR crisis

Image source: Mashable

Two types of plans are essential in preparing for a PR crisis: a crisis management plan and an ongoing communications measurement plan.

“You need to know what’s happening out there, and your dashboard software is the most important piece of any crisis environment,” says Josh Machiz, director of integrated marketing at Nasdaq in its white paper How to Build a World-Class Crisis Communications Playbook. “Certain words, connected to your organization, could spell a crisis.” Continue reading


Whole Foods Case Study: When Is a Counter-Offensive the Best PR Crisis Response?

whole foods PR crises management

Staff at the Whole Foods Lamar store in Austin, TX. Image source: Whole Foods

PR experts typically recommend against going on the offensive when faced with a PR crisis. Counter-attacking accusers only makes matters worse, they say. Instead, assume a defensive position, quickly apologize, correct the situation and make amends. Sometimes, however, the best defense is a good offense.

Whole Foods chose to take the offense when it was sued by Austin pastor Jordan Brown. Brown ordered a cake at the store and requested that the words “Love Wins” be written on it. Instead, store personnel wrote “Love Wins Fag,” he said. He posted a video about his cake and filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods. Continue reading


The Largest Flaw in Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Influencer marketing is now a prevalent PR and marketing tactic. PR agencies and corporate departments frequently boast about the benefits of influencer marketing to clients and corporate C-suite executives as a powerful yet affordable strategy.

By partnering with influencers, that is, social media celebrities or personalities with substantial and loyal followings, brands can dramatically increase their reach and create more authentic messages. The strategy, either through paid or nonpaid influencers, is often more effective and affordable than more traditional marketing and advertising. Continue reading


Passing of Prince Leads to Surprising Corporate Social Media Missteps

The passing of Prince offers examples of how not to conduct social media marketing. Marketers naturally posted their respects to the musician on social media, often including a connection to their brands.

Cheerios issued the tweet “Rest in Peace” against a purple background and the #prince hashtag. In place of the dot above the ‘i’ was a single cheerio. Not surprisingly, the public was displeased and diehard Prince fans were outraged. They called the tweet inappropriate, tasteless and self-serving, as well as other expletive terms. General Mills deleted the tweet, but not before it was preserved with numerous screen shots. Continue reading


Impact of New Facebook News Feed Algorithm on PR & Marketing

facebook news feed algorithm Facebook has yet again modified its News Feed algorithm to change what people see in their feeds. The social media giant announced last week that is placing greater emphasis on time spent reading a post regardless of whether the user opened the article.

In previous update just a few months ago, Facebook touted the importance of engagement metrics in predicting what users wish to view. Now it says its research shows engagement metrics – likes, clicks, comments and shares – don’t always tell the entire story of what viewers prefer. At times, people don’t like or comment on posts they want to see, such as articles about a serious current event or sad news from a friend.

In its newest algorithm, Facebook will count only time spent reading or watching content, not loading time. “We will also be looking at the time spent within a threshold so as not to accidentally treat longer articles preferentially,” Facebook researchers stated. Continue reading