WE Buchan bosses critique the crisis management of Elon Musk’s tweet and contaminated strawberries

Rebecca Wilson and Michelle Ryan, CEO and head of corporate at WE Buchan respectively, used Elon Musk as an example of ‘ugly’ crisis management.

Speaking at Mumbrella’s CommsCon, they stated that Musk stepping down as Tesla chairman and paying the SCC $US20m in response to tweeting about taking Tesla private showed how crisis management can be potentially damaging to the bottom line of a company.

Following along with the ‘good, bad and ugly’ framework, Wilson said that the management of the sabotaged strawberries scandal last year was an example of “where an issue not directly related to a brand runs so fast and so hot that it sweeps an entire industry with it”.

Michelle Ryan and Rebecca Wilson from WE Buchan spoke at CommsCon

In contrast, KFC’s shortage of chicken in 2018 was lauded as ‘good’ crisis management because of its authentic and humorous ‘FCK’ apology.

Wilson said: “They made an apology. And it wasn’t just any apology. It was an authentic apology, an apology that was self deprecating and exposingly honest.

“For KFC the recovery was quick because it was already built within its culture that focus on authenticity. It had built its own resilience to deal effectively with an issue that could have impacted it quite substantially from a reputation and commercial perspective, but it didn’t. It actually enhanced it.”

Later, Wilson went on to praise Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn’s response to the Royal Commission, stating:

“Even though he was sitting there and they were under fire and it was not a good period for CBA, he had a very genuine and authentic response to that.”

“So even though the coverage around CBA at the time when he was appearing was still an issue, he certainly is held up as being one of the few leaders throughout that process of actually having some sort of genuineness and authenticity to be able to respond well for it. And that’s going to hold him in good stead. He’ll still come out of that with his integrity and I think that’s really important.”


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