Author of Annual 'Top 10 PR Blunders List' Says Recent Coca-Cola and United Airlines Deeds Signal New Trend in Business' Courting of Public Opinion

Fineman Hails Companies' Leadership in Valuing and Seeking Public Approval



Apr 10, 2001, 01:00 ET from Fineman Associates Public Relations

    SAN FRANCISCO, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- In a salute to Coca-Cola and
 United Airlines, the author of the "Annual Top 10 PR Blunders List," pointed
 to those companies' recent news-making examples as tributes to the power of
 public opinion.  Public relations veteran Michael Fineman said Coca-Cola's
 agreement to provide optional water and juice beverages in its school vending
 machines and United Airlines' decision to honor the sale of more than
 100 international travel tickets, mistakenly priced on the Internet at less
 than $100 each, show an increasing urgency among businesses to be recognized
 as good corporate citizens.
     "Corporate awareness of public image has increased tenfold in the last
 decade," said Fineman, president of Fineman Associates Public Relations (FAPR)
 in San Francisco whose firm produces an end-of-year collection of public
 relations gaffes that is published annually by the nation's news media.
 "Companies and organizations in today's competitive, volatile and often
 reactionary marketplace understand that their names must ring sweet and true.
 Public goodwill translates into loyalty, sales and, ultimately, permission to
 achieve corporate objectives.
     "From all appearances, the United Airlines and Coca-Cola responses to
 marketplace sensitivities were more than spin; they were genuine and the right
 things to do.  And it's smart to show a little humility while the whole world
 is watching."
     According to Fineman, his "Blunders List" each year, with examples of what
 not to do, was created as an annual reminder of the critical need for good
 public relations and a call for exactly the kind of organizational behavior
 recently demonstrated by Coca-Cola and United.
     "Companies that get themselves in trouble with the public almost always
 seem to have an attitude that they're not in business to be liked," said
 Fineman.  "That's perceived as arrogance. Companies should acknowledge that
 their very existence depends on public favor and consent.
     "Blundering in the court of public opinion is not about making honest
 mistakes.  Most people, after all, are forgiving.  What counts is how
 organizations handle their mistakes and respond to public displeasure.  Good
 public relations means establishing trust and winning friends and allies.  Do
 what's right and work hard for acceptance, a la Coca-Cola and United Airlines.
 Additionally, the equity a firm builds with the public will prove especially
 valuable in times of trouble."
     Fineman offers the following counsel to firms wishing to stay in positive
 perception territory:
 
     1.  Communicate regularly about the overall benefit your organization
         represents and its standing as a good corporate citizen.
     2.  Demonstrate care and concern for your audiences.
     3.  Be responsive to public demand for timely information.
     4.  When trouble looms, be prepared to either accept responsibility for
         your company's potentially negative impact or, if falsely charged, to
         tell your side of the story.
     5.  Do not panic or respond defiantly in the face of accusations.
     6.  Never lie.
     7.  Do not assume an angry, almighty or negative posture -- at any time.
     8.  Show good faith in answering negativity with clear, accurate and
         relevant information.
     9.  Avoid blame, judgment and speculation.
     10. Incorporate public relations perspectives in all policy, management,
         marketing and employee training.
 
     Fineman Associates Public Relations is an award-winning agency
 specializing in comprehensive "Brand PR" programs and crisis communications
 for consumer goods and services and technology clients.  Brand PR focuses on
 generating high brand-name awareness, credibility and trust, and communicating
 the brand promise as a covenant with consumers.
 
 

SOURCE Fineman Associates Public Relations
    SAN FRANCISCO, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- In a salute to Coca-Cola and
 United Airlines, the author of the "Annual Top 10 PR Blunders List," pointed
 to those companies' recent news-making examples as tributes to the power of
 public opinion.  Public relations veteran Michael Fineman said Coca-Cola's
 agreement to provide optional water and juice beverages in its school vending
 machines and United Airlines' decision to honor the sale of more than
 100 international travel tickets, mistakenly priced on the Internet at less
 than $100 each, show an increasing urgency among businesses to be recognized
 as good corporate citizens.
     "Corporate awareness of public image has increased tenfold in the last
 decade," said Fineman, president of Fineman Associates Public Relations (FAPR)
 in San Francisco whose firm produces an end-of-year collection of public
 relations gaffes that is published annually by the nation's news media.
 "Companies and organizations in today's competitive, volatile and often
 reactionary marketplace understand that their names must ring sweet and true.
 Public goodwill translates into loyalty, sales and, ultimately, permission to
 achieve corporate objectives.
     "From all appearances, the United Airlines and Coca-Cola responses to
 marketplace sensitivities were more than spin; they were genuine and the right
 things to do.  And it's smart to show a little humility while the whole world
 is watching."
     According to Fineman, his "Blunders List" each year, with examples of what
 not to do, was created as an annual reminder of the critical need for good
 public relations and a call for exactly the kind of organizational behavior
 recently demonstrated by Coca-Cola and United.
     "Companies that get themselves in trouble with the public almost always
 seem to have an attitude that they're not in business to be liked," said
 Fineman.  "That's perceived as arrogance. Companies should acknowledge that
 their very existence depends on public favor and consent.
     "Blundering in the court of public opinion is not about making honest
 mistakes.  Most people, after all, are forgiving.  What counts is how
 organizations handle their mistakes and respond to public displeasure.  Good
 public relations means establishing trust and winning friends and allies.  Do
 what's right and work hard for acceptance, a la Coca-Cola and United Airlines.
 Additionally, the equity a firm builds with the public will prove especially
 valuable in times of trouble."
     Fineman offers the following counsel to firms wishing to stay in positive
 perception territory:
 
     1.  Communicate regularly about the overall benefit your organization
         represents and its standing as a good corporate citizen.
     2.  Demonstrate care and concern for your audiences.
     3.  Be responsive to public demand for timely information.
     4.  When trouble looms, be prepared to either accept responsibility for
         your company's potentially negative impact or, if falsely charged, to
         tell your side of the story.
     5.  Do not panic or respond defiantly in the face of accusations.
     6.  Never lie.
     7.  Do not assume an angry, almighty or negative posture -- at any time.
     8.  Show good faith in answering negativity with clear, accurate and
         relevant information.
     9.  Avoid blame, judgment and speculation.
     10. Incorporate public relations perspectives in all policy, management,
         marketing and employee training.
 
     Fineman Associates Public Relations is an award-winning agency
 specializing in comprehensive "Brand PR" programs and crisis communications
 for consumer goods and services and technology clients.  Brand PR focuses on
 generating high brand-name awareness, credibility and trust, and communicating
 the brand promise as a covenant with consumers.
 
 SOURCE  Fineman Associates Public Relations