Crisis Communication in PR

One of the most important aspects of the Public Relations industry is crisis communications. Any firm should be ready to deal with last minute changes or adverse situations that may arise. Even when you’ve spent months or years working on a campaign, an unexpected twist may come, even on the dawn of presentation day. As a professional, it’s necessary to be flexible enough to work with all types of extenuating circumstances.

Such was the case for Levi’s this past week as they attempted to launch their “Go Forth” campaign. The initial spot in 2009 received both praise and criticism by featuring the poetic words of Walt Whitman set to a backdrop of Braddock, PA; a town in economic decline. Despite the flack, Levi’s continued to “Go Forth” with another spot in 2010 and the aforementioned 2011 spot to run in preparation of the launch of their global line of products. The advertising, dubbed “Levi’s Legacy” went viral on Facebook on August 9, and can be seen here.

Although the scenes depicted came from May Day riots in Berlin, with their debut coming parallel with the turbulence in London during the days prior, it immediately received a storm of negative comments. Large names in Internet advertising and public relations spoke up, commenting not only directly to the brand, but through article sources, such as AdAge as well as various other web communities and articles. Following these events, Levi’s reps have noted that “’Go Forth’ is about embodying the energy and events of our time, not about any specific movement or political theme; rather, it’s about pioneering spirit.” Although the riots have since subsided, he ads have been pulled within the past 24 hours and the UK premiere is postponed till further notice.

Although this is unfortunate for the campaign we believe that a situation like this epitomizes the true nature of the industry. Situations such as this do arise and the entire team must be ready to handle it. The advancement of media can work to both your advantage and disadvantage and any company must be ready to handle the surprises ahead.