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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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
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
Most engaged stories about December Tesla recalls
One crisis type that is continuing to affect companies and their employees is vaccine mandates and how they’re choosing to respond.
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
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
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.
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
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