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Public Relations and its Political Quandary

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LL Bean, Uber, Nordstrom … as the first 100 days of POTUS 45’s reign continues, all three of these businesses (plus some!) have been severely impacted by being associated with our new president – some just guilty by association.

Here’s how these three found out – the hard way – that being closely tied to a controversial politician can be a risky venture, especially in these divided times:

Linda Bean is the granddaughter of the L.L. Bean founder and sits on the company’s 10-person board of directors. She is also a donor to Republican candidates and causes. When the POTUS tweeted out his support and thanks to Linda Bean, he inadvertently threw the company into a thunderstorm of controversy.

Nordstrom has been hailed and harangued by its recent announcement to discontinue Ivanka Trump’s line of shoes. Her brand’s sale trajectory was in a downward spiral. Now, the department store has lost what was formerly a highly popular and promotional line, but also the income that came along with it.

Uber’s CEO left Trump’s business advisory council after nearly 200,000 people deleted their Uber app and created a hashtag #deleteuber.

What are the risks and/or rewards of voicing your political opposition from your business or businesses POV?

Consider:

– Do you know who your customers are? And if you do, will the benefits of your stance outweigh the risks? Will your loyal champions make up for those you lose?

– Should you voice your opinions as a concerned citizen rather than on behalf of your company?

– If you proceed, are you prepared for any consequences?

Regardless of your decision, prepare a short statement of explanation for your decision – without apology – to help you respond to comments. More importantly, should you run into a hailstorm of opposition, be prepared with media training, and your company with a crisis communication plan that includes strategies for all communication channels and target audiences.

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