Crisis control in the international eye

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It’s never easy to admit to mistakes that’ve been made. What makes it more difficult is when mistakes happen in the international public eye, and stakeholders are questioning moral codes of ethics. Two recent scandals that have taken the media by storm involve the world’s largest car manufacturer and the association behind soccer’s global governing body. The offenders are Volkswagen and FIFA. Their public relations teams are handling the organizations’ crises in two very different ways.

Volkswagen has been caught cheating U.S. emission tests on approximately 11 million cars that were fitted with defect devices. VW’s U.S. CEO, Michael Horn, stated he was unaware of this illegal practice and labeled the incident as a “screw up.” Well this said screw up has cost the car manufacturer $7.3 billion to handle the costs of recalls and fines caused by the scandal. Volkswagen’s Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn has resigned from his position- a smart move to prove the company is trying to clean up its act.

Volkswagen has admitted to cheating on emission tests to save money, but acknowledging the wrong-doing is only the first step to getting back up. The overall goal for Volkswagen now is to win back the trust of its customers and stakeholders by remaining transparent. The next step for the PR team is to proactively market the brand to reassure stakeholders that this costly instance won’t happen again.

FIFA is also experiencing legal troubles, but its response to the crisis has not been as receptive. Currently, its long-running president, Sepp Blatter, and other officials are under criminal investigation for suspicious incidents of potential bribery and mismanagement of funds. Blatter refuses to step down, causing many FIFA sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to be unsatisfied. These corporations want to see a change in management for FIFA to ensure they are not associated with questionable ethics. The FIFA organization remains steadfast to its original ways, which may continue to hurt them down the field.

When managing a crisis, admit to wrongdoings and remain transparent. People make mistakes and stakeholders know that. The way organizations handle its issues is what will gain or lose trust.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl staff member Isabella Abiuso. 

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