Crisis Communication: The Big Bang Theory’s Leonard Hofstadter

In the second episode of season 11’s The Big Bang Theory, Leonard Hofstader was invited to an NPR radio show to speak on Caltech’s physics department’s new findings. Unbeknownst to him, he was completely oblivious to what he was actually doing not only to himself but on behalf of the  university.

Now let’s take a step back and analyze what was wrong even before Leonard arrived to the radio station.  Any guesses?  There was no clear indication of these two instances:

  1. Leonard didn’t check with the university’s policies on external communication and public relations
  2. Caltech didn’t provide proper media training for all of their research scientists before they agree to these interviews on behalf of the university

Poor Leonard.  He stuck with his integrity and told the truth about what was going on at the university or much rather, what wasn’t going on.  There was no great scientific find in quite a while and Leonard made it clear on public radio.  He even exaggerated about how much money those scientists were spending but had not found anything.  As you can imagine you would expect the reactions from his friends while the interview was proceeding, was also felt and probably shared with others which is why he got called into Dean Davis’ office….cue the wonderful Regina King!

The university had donors calling asking why were they contributing millions of dollars to the university with seeing no possible good outlook to the field of physics.  Dean Davis informed Leonard he had to write a retraction statement however the bigger issue was still at hand:

There was no internal communication sent to the other scientist addressing future guest appearances on behalf of the university.

It’s the university’s responsibility to ensure they’re still the finest school in the nation for physics, biology, arts….whatever!  Ensuring proper external communications will secure the university  more donations from their esteemed alumni and maybe other investors who want to be a part of history.  In order to do this, you must get your house in order.  Caltech needs to set up a media training session for conducting in-person, written and telephone interviews.  Leonard Hofstader was an introverted scientist who did not understand the consequences of his actions until it was spelled out to him via the dean’s uncomfortable conversation and via the death glares from his co-workers.

Media training could have prevented this crisis by teaching Leonard how to show the light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems you will never reach the end or in Leonard’s case: discovering something revolutionary.  When you’re working for a company, the last thing you want to do is speak negatively (or not so positively) about them in public.

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Always Be Ready

It’s hurricane season and here especially in North Carolina, we have to be extra careful. I work for a company that is open 24/7 as we’re in the food/grocery business. People need to eat!

With that being said, Mother Nature can make it so that you cannot go about your normal routine. After the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the southeast quadrant of the United States is now bracing for Hurricane Irma.

It’s an unsettling feeling knowing that you cannot escape something that is destined to happen. Think labor after nine months of pregnancy: whether you’ve gone through it or not you know there is pain to be expected. It’s also good that you can prepare for it as best as you possibly can. A pregnant mother can consult with a mid-wife or go to a hospital for care during this painful time in need.

We can think about this in the food industry regarding drivers, distribution centers, restaurants, operators of all of these locations. Although we know what is to be expected, we can better plan around the short falls of our geographic location.  In Eastern North Carolina, we’re preparing to work from home if Irma was to hit as this area is known for flooding with the close proximity of the Tar River.  I personally was displaced out of my home for about a week last year due to Hurricane Matthew.  I was not as prepared for that Category 1 storm as I thought.  Having a backup location to operate out of has help some of the suppliers at work during Hurricane Harvey.  From my Hurricane Matthew experience, I operated out of my in-laws as the roads were inaccessible.

Tempers will flare when it comes to food as it should as it is a sensitive subject where all are impacted.   That is why it is essential to remain calm and always be ready for the unexpectedly expected situations and be of aid to a co-worker.  At work we call each other teammates and once the coach (President) calls the play, we put all hands in to “break” the huddle and execute the plan.

Always be ready… to help someone in need.

Climate control: Weathering tough times

Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Rockport, TX on Saturday, August 26, 2017.  The Category 4 storm has wrecked havoc on thousands of people in the Houston area. The storm is still affecting people three days later and devastation only getting worse.

With the unprecedented events from Hurricane Harvey, the National Weather Service is forecasting as much as 50 inches is to be expected in parts of Texas.  To aid the public in understanding the severity this storm may bring, and for future observation of higher levels of rain, the National Weather Service has updated their map to include two new colors.

Courtesy of the National Weather Service website
Courtesy of the National Weather Service website

Before the old map shows the greatest rain impact at “Greater than 15 inches”, with no clear end to what the greater means.  The map is now updated with the interval for dark purple to represent “15-20 inches” while the color plum now represents “20-25 inches” and light lavender represents “Greater than 30 inches”.

Through the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the National Weather Service center’s update today reminds us all that even in the most unlikely event, it is still possible to have unhistorical events occur.  Although we’ve never seen 30+ inches of rain, that does not exclude that it is never possible to happen.

With more rain expected, many celebrities have participated in Kevin Hart‘s #hurricaneharveychallenge, donating $25,000 or more to the American Red Cross.  All citizens are encouraged to donate what they can to help.

Please keep everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey in your prayers.  DONATE if you can and remember the smaller towns near Houston that were affected are often overlooked when needing resources.

PRessed and stressed? Release, Cease and Desist

Being frustrated is a part of life.  It’s never good to hold on and internalize anger.

Have a best friend or friends you can vent to regarding any recurring frustrations.  Lately, I rely on my husband, my mother and my cousin for my venting and vulnerable purposes.  They understand what I go through and I return the favor to them when it’s their time to release their frustrations.

Here are some healthy ways to release that anger:

  • Type what you WISH you could say in an email but do not put the email address in the destination box
  • Draft a text to someone who constantly annoys you but don’t send it
  • Vent to someone to understand if you’re being reasonable.  Sometimes I bypass the perspective approach and go right to the other person being wrong when in fact it was my fault
  • Take a break from everyone, go walk around the office and ponder how you can approach the situation once the heat had died down

Just remember: release the anger, stop the brief vent and move on to other pressing matters.

Calm, Cool and Collected…Unfortunately

On March 7, 2017 I got into a fender bender.  It’s unfortunate that we live in a world that we constantly feel like we need to rush.  Blame it on the information age and speed I guess but there are situations where our full attention is needed.  Driving needs our full attention!

Anyway, here is what happened in a nutshell:

  • I looked to make sure no car was coming before I backed out of my park, then I backed out
  • As I was attempting to put my car in drive to leave, I looked again in my rear view mirror to see another person who works in the same building as I quickly put their car in reverse…and GUNNED it, without looking to see if there was anyone behind them
  • He rear ended me with his bumper, puncturing and scratching my bumper

When I got out of the car I waited to see how he responded, knowing we both knew who was at fault.  The first thing he said was “oh man”, to which I replied “yep.”  There was no way I was going to apologize for anything.  As he requested to exchange information, I asked what happened.  He stated that he was in a rush and didn’t look where he was going.  He then apologized and stated that it was his fault.

First sign of relief but my guard was still up.  We both established he was at fault.  Unfortunately it took a while to get his insurance information because he didn’t keep an insurance card on him AND the car he hit me with was his girlfriend’s car.  As he was trying to get his girlfriend to get him the insurance information, I took pictures of the accident then submitted a claim through my Geico app (how convenient!) but because it wasn’t his car, I followed up with a call to the insurance company to ensure proper protocol.

The gentlemen at fault was actually surprised that I wasn’t angry or as he said “cursing him out.”  Granted I had every right to be “angry” as not only was he careless in the act, his nervous talks revealed that he likes to read emails while driving, but thought texting and driving was stupid.  I was truly bewildered at this statement.

Despite the accident and his confession of reading emails while driving, I told myself there was no reason to blow a gasket when everything will be taken care of and because of that I reassured him that everything will get worked out.  Accidents happen but owning up to them is critical.

He even stated that he was in my position before and he did not act as “nice” as I did.  The main reason that I was nice was because I knew it would be resolved and covered by their insurance.  The second main reason was I know I would not want anyone to yell at me if I was on the other side of this accident.  I’m no stranger to owning up to mistakes as I make plenty but sometimes that’s not enough.  People want to vent and put their anger on someone else when the opportunity presents itself.

The last but most important reason I did not get angry with this man was because I did not want to be portrayed as the “angry black woman.”  It is sad that I have to always think about this in everyday situations.  As I stated before, I had every right to be angry however I did not want to give anyone the reason to continue believing the stereotypical image of the woman of color.  This goes beyond the accident.  If a man yells or curses at work, he is passionate but if a women does it she is emotional or a b!t*h.  It’s time to stop this way of thinking.

Women should be able to show the same “passion” as a man without fear of any biased backlash or consequences that a man would never receive.

 

If you like it then you should put a RIBBON on it

In a previous post, I talked about how being a public relations professional helps me think on my feet to work around threats.

In conducting and updating my SWOT analysis for this wedding, one of the opportunities for the bridal party turned into a serious threat:

The bridesmaid dresses didn’t fit 40% of the bridal party!

 

Now with less than 30 days to the wedding, I had to think fast to avoid raising the bride’s stress levels. Well it turns out my solution worked!

Here is how I turned an original opportunity that changed to a threat back to another opportunity…and technically into a strength.

 

My wonderful Etsy solution!

The bridesmaid dresses are one of the most expensive items to acquire for the wedding.  Normally this would entail the bridal party to go dress shopping and place the dress on order.  In this particular instance, we decided to go the least expensive route and find a dress on a website.  Pretty dress but to our disbelief, the FIT didn’t work out for our curvaceous features.  We took the risk and lost.

It’s now less than 30 days to the wedding.  There was no way we could order dress to have them arrive in time and even if they did, the fit out would not be favorable.  With two bridesmaids not being able to fasten the hooks, I decided to throw a ribbon on it and have all the bridesmaids wear a ribbon around their waist to cover the hooks.

It was my job to break the news to the bride but I had to make sure I present it in a way that would ease her worries.  The sandwich method helped (start good, drop the bad, top it off with good):

  1. Complimented the beauty of the dress
  2. State that the dress could not be secured for a couple of bridesmaids due to the tight fit
  3. Offered a solution that would solve any issues AND compliment the colors of the wedding

After having the bride check with her wedding planner, the ribbon worked and would not clash with any other decor. Whew, crisis averted.  I Pope’ed it!  This ribbon not only solves a problem but includes the bride’s favor color more in her wedding vision.

Anyone can complain and pout but the resilient figure out a way to make it happen.  Most entrepreneurs push and strive to see their vision come to life so get out there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Don’t curve your curve balls, embrace them!

When it comes to an event, planning is crucial. No matter how much planning you do, especially in advance, you can bet something will always go wrong. It’s always good to have a backup plan however some issues are totally unexpected. Thinking on your feet is a major key! Mastering the art of problem-solving is critical when you’re experiencing a huge blunder.

Frustrated

Instead of complaining, be quick to find a solution.

  • The caterer cancelled at the last-minute? Have options that won’t need a long lead time to accommodate large groups such as Subway.
  • Your florist promised seasoned flowers that turned out to be in late bloom and can’t deliver as promised? Get alternative flowers or get fake flowers from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s….get real flowers from Walmart if you have no choice but make sure the florist gives you a hefty discount for your next event.
  • The venue double-booked but you already printed invites? Make sure you notify everyone on the invite list and that have RSVP’ed to understand any changes in venue or schedule.  Call them, email them, text them…make sure you communicate any and all changes to your guests!

Figure out how to solve the problem now and then find the best solution for the variable that caused the issue. Make sure you are made “whole” if someone unexpectedly changes or adjusts what was discussed and contracted out for the event.  Sometimes your solutions will not be glamorous but it will help you plan and prepare for future hiccups and continue on with your event.

Have your contracts ready!