WHO Dares To Take On Big Tobacco

en banner 300x193 WHO Dares To Take On Big Tobacco

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for WHO and its very public and unapologetic fight with Big Tobacco.

Who wants to take on Big Tobacco? The famously disliked industry with deep pockets has had its fair share of scraps and sworn enemies.  But how about a fight with the UN, or an international agency? Enter the World Health Organization (WHO), now aggressively throwing some tough punches at one of the world’s most powerful industries.

Two weeks ago was World No Tobacco Day. The day is used to generate awareness that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people annually. WHO, wanting to ramp up pressure, selected the provocative theme of  “tobacco industry interference” as its big idea. Building on the idea that tobacco kills, a new layer of detail was added: Big Tobacco is a Big Bully.

Mincing no words, WHO said the campaign is meant to shed light on tobacco’s brazen attempts to undermine regulation. Describing the tobacco industry’s tactics as “nefarious and harmful,” it lists strategies from Tobacco’s PR attack template: Use  front groups to make your case; interfere with political and legislative processes; and find ways to manipulate scientific evidence. The website, in a “name-and-shame” tactic, then obligingly lists groups and individuals that advance the industry’s interests.

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for WHO and its very public and unapologetic fight with Big Tobacco. To have had this approved by the powers that be is extraordinary. To have heard nothing from Big Tobacco warning about Big Brother bureaucracies shows that this might be working.

PR Takeaway: “Know your enemy” seems to be WHO’s mantra. The campaign is a warning shot to every smart lobbyist in Washington and PR agencies globally that they are being watched. By exposing the PR playbook, WHO has the upper hand. At the same time, WHO might want to check that all its senior officials and budgets are in line and above reproach. Any weakness in that area is where volume two of the PR playbook typically begins.

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Will WHO’s brazen tactics against Big Tobacco work or backfire? Give us your PR Verdict in Speak Your Mind, below.

Wal-Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

walmart Wal Mart, Anything You Would Like to Say?

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart and an elegant way to decline comment.

Big trouble ahead for retailer Wal-Mart.  The firm is reeling from Sunday’s NYTimes which claimed that as far back as 2005, Wal-Mart’s big wigs learned of allegations of widespread bribery of government officials in Mexico by its own peeps but did nothing about it.

At heart is an allegation that the internal review conducted by Wal-Mart at the time was a whitewash.  Allegedly conducted by some of the very same people who stood accused of paying up to $25 million in bribes, the NYTimes suggests the firm not only failed to investigate the matter properly but also failed to notify the relevant authorities.  In so doing the firm and its management are now potentially exposed to seriously punitive penalties.

What to say to the NYTimes?  Priority one in a case like this is to buy time and establish distance between what is alleged and where the company is now.  Wal-Mart’s besieged PR commented, “If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.  We are deeply concerned by the allegations and are working aggressively to determine what happened.”

The PR Verdict: “A” for Wal-Mart’s response,  an elegant way to decline comment.  As an immediate PR response it established the allegations are unclear, circumstances vague and not what the firm is about.

PR Takeaway:  When in doubt buy time and create distance from the allegation.  While a legal investigation and fallout could take years, the damage to the stock price, relations with regulators and overall reputation will start hurting immediately.  There is very little time.  Suspend or remove the implicated management from the day-to-day workings of the firm.  The faster Wal-Mart can say that was then, this is now, the better for its stockholders.  This is going to be a crisis communications strategy that will have to run and run.

To read the original article click here and to read more click here.

What’s your verdict on Wal-Marts’s response?

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