What’s a brand to do when its parents are in trouble, it has killed a sibling (News of the World) and the family is arguing amongst themselves over whether or not to disown some of its other members?
This is precisely today’s situation at News Corp, having pushed a long-standing honourary member, Rebekah Brooks, out of the nest whilst deciding how to prevent the spread of reputation infection from attacking others in the media nest.
Ms Brooks’ resignation today gives a symbolic nod to the many pension funds and other investors calling for something swift to be done. Slowing the fast-dissipating brand equity bleeds they’re watching via the widespread headlines and share price volatility is rather unexpected from this previously steady enterprise.
Last night, I was asked on Newsnight what Rupert Murdoch should do as head of the crisis management and corporate diplomacy operations being pursued by a high-profile range of interested parties? Surely the appointment of crisis PR firm Edelman to get you out of a hot spot is predictable, but shouldn’t any leader in a similar spot do more than this to show you’re on the case?
Buying space in your own and competing newspapers for an "apology campaign" is out of touch with the current mood of the public and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic who are expecting more precise and frequent bulletins about what actions will be taken internally to prevent hacking and police bribes from happening again. It has a sense of déjà vu about it – summer 1999 saw Doug Ivester, Coca-Cola’s then CEO, promising every Belgian household a coupon for a free can of the drink following the poisoning of young children there.
Assuming managing the corporate brand is part of the marketer’s remit (which it should be) and Mr Murdoch’s agenda (which it no doubt is), he’d do well to apply more strategic tools in the kit bag: stay on top of how people implement your plan, not just that they do so. It has been the undoing of many recent corporate downfalls, allowing the brand to be over-ruled by an all-powerful figurehead (Madoff, Goodwin, Lay et al.), allowing the corporate culture to be dysfunctional.
But these are just my views as a 25-plus year marketing veteran. What are yours? Add your comments below…