It’s Tough to Beat a PR Message Delivered by Cannonball

December 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

It’s that time of year. The publications, trade and consumer, online and traditional, are proclaiming their best and worst of 2011. I’ll just give you one recent and personal chart-topper.

The Discovery Channel show, “MythBusters,” while filming at a Bay Area sheriff’s department bomb range, accidentally launched a cannonball into a home and a minivan. The news and the program’s often odd-ball hosts were named in major news outlets around the country.

The Discovery Channel’s and “MythBusters’” response was thoughtful and complete on day one. Resulting coverage assured the public that

  1. no one was hurt;
  2. Discovery Channel took responsibility;
  3. all appropriate and proper safety protocols were followed (in fact, a sheriff’s department safety expert was on the scene when the “bounce” happened);
  4. the incident was bizarre and unprecedented in show’s history (with details on the cannonball’s trajectory); and
  5. the incident would not air.

Then, on day two, when many a successful crisis communicator might have been content to rest on the mountain of not-terribly-damaging coverage clippings, the show’s two hosts went out to publicly survey the damage, express their “embarrassment” (look at that, raw emotion!) and personally apologize to those impacted – even going so far as to decline to smile in fan photos since it wasn’t “a smiling time.”

Nicely done, Discovery Channel and “MythBusters.”  There’s definitely something to be said for a human response to a PR crisis!

–          Traci Stuart

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Entry filed under: Business Development, Business to Business, Media Relations, Public Relations. Tags: , , , , , , .

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