Q4 2021

Crisis analysis

The last year has proved that a corporate comms crisis can come in many shapes and sizes for brands, and stem from anything from a product recall to an individual’s behavior.

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Product recalls

One communications crisis type that most consistently crops up in our quarterly analyses is that of product recalls.

From food recalls to cosmetics to tech, there are almost inevitably a handful of recalls every quarter that have to be communicated about for consumer safety.

The chart opposite shows a variety of product recalls that occurred in Q4 of last year, from electric vehicles to at-home Covid tests.

Interestingly, Tesla had two different recalls, which had vastly different reactions from the public, with more than 10x the public interest in the second recall.

In this section, we also looked at the coverage of the recall of some Australian Covid tests, which moved from the mainstream to a conservative talking point over the course of a few days.

We also highlighted BGR, a surprisingly influential website when it comes to product recall news.

Media and public interest in various product recalls

Public Interest

Media Interest

Spotlight:
Tesla recalls

There were two Tesla recalls, and the December iteration received significantly more engagement than the one in November.
This largely correlated with the size of the recall, with almost half a million vehicles recalled in December vs. 11,000 in November.

The media wrote about the November recall 810 times, with a total of just over 14k engagements.

The December recall saw a rise in media interest by 2x or so, jumping to 1,881, while public interest rose by a staggering 11x, showing how much more the topic resonated.

This was also evident in the most engaged articles, with significant coverage from international publications including the likes of Reuters, Bloomberg, and the BBC.

Most engaged stories about November Tesla recalls

Publisher Headline Engagements
carandbike.com Tesla To Recall Nearly 12,000 U.S. Vehicles Over Software Communication Error 8,439
social.techcrunch.com Tesla recalls 11,704 vehicles after identifying Full Self-Driving Beta software error – TechCrunch 4,683
theguardian.com Tesla recalls nearly 12,000 US vehicles over software glitch 2,189
electrek.co Tesla 'recalls' 11,704 vehicles over automatic emergency braking issue, already done over-the-air 1,471
teslarati.com Tesla's emergency braking issue recall is already done, and it was addressed in one day 937

Most engaged stories about December Tesla recalls

Publisher Headline Engagements
reuters.com Tesla recalls over 475,000 electric vehicles 49,822
engadget.com Tesla recalls nearly half a million cars over camera and trunk defects | Engadget 13,747
neowin.net Tesla recalls nearly 500,000 Model 3 and Model S units citing engineering flaws 10,300
bbc.co.uk Tesla to recall 475,000 cars in the US 6,543
bloomberg.com Tesla Recalls Over 475,000 U.S. Cars on Camera, Trunk Issues 5,634

Vaccine mandates

One crisis type that is continuing to affect companies and their employees is vaccine mandates and how they’re choosing to respond.

Back in Q3 it seemed as though every company in the country was approaching the mandate differently, and while that still rings true, the polices being pursued have become more intense in recent months.

There have been thousands of articles published about companies and vaccine mandates in Q4, but we’re going to focus on a few that received high levels of engagement.

Some companies like Kroger are making it harder for their employees to not be vaccinated, while others such as In-N-Out are refusing to comply with the governments mandate in certain cities.

There are also examples of companies whose employees have taken action to stop them from requiring vaccination, and for that we’ll look at Google.

Media and public interest in various vaccine mandates

CEOs in the news: Better.com

The crisis experienced by better.com’s Vishal Garg is probably the one readers are most likely to have already known about, as his firing of 900 employees over Zoom made headlines nationwide.

This is another case study in momentum building on a story over a few 
days. Initial reports came out as soon as December 1st, with reporting 
from the likes of The Daily Beast and TechCrunch that saw a few hundred engagements each.

The story went largely unnoticed beyond that for a few days, picking up slightly more coverage and engagement through stories in Vice, San Francisco Gate, and Forbes, before going mainstream with coverage in 
CNN that ended up receiving 53.8k engagements. This then led to a further full week of coverage including pieces in national outlets such as NBC News, the New York Times, and more.

This goes to show how even stories that seem to have blown over can be picked up later in their life cycle and restart new conversations and reporting.

Media and public interest in the Better.com CEO

Spotlight: Peloton

Peloton’s crisis situation looks a little different than the others, with more fluctuations in media and public interest due to how the issue evolved over time.

There was an initial peak in interest when the premiere of the Sex and The City sequel ended with a shocking death to Chris Noth’s character, who dies after riding a Peloton bike.

On Dec 10th TMZ reported that Peloton’s stock price dropped by 11%, and by Dec 12th the brand had already responded with a clever ad featuring Noth that showed he had been “revived.”

Stories about the ad were responsible for the biggest peak in interest during this time period. However, the top article came from Fox News, with over 43k engagements, and disclosed that the actor was facing multiple sexual assault allegations.

Peloton pulled the ad with Chris Noth on Dec 16th.

Most engaged stories about Peloton

Publisher Headline Engagements
foxnews.com Law & Order' actress claims Chris Noth was 'sexually inappropriate' towards her on set 43,753
tmz.com Big's Death on 'Sex and the City' Reboot Triggers 11% Drop in Peloton Stock Price 33,044
rollingstone.com Peloton Responds to 'And Just Like That…' Death With Clever 'Mr. Big' Ad 27,490
deadline.com HBO Max’s ‘…And Just Like That’ Zinged In New Fast-Reaction Peloton Ad 16,538
variety.com Peloton Revives ‘And Just Like That’ Character After Post-Workout Death in New Commercial 15,185

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