Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony and Coravin: Case studies in crisis management

So you are a major international corporation. Let's say your name is Sony. And you are hacked by some nefarious organization calling themselves Guardians of Peace (who, while guarding the peace, create a lot of havoc in the process). So you have a crisis on your hands. So what is your response? Deny. Deny. Deny.

First you act as though nothing has happened and batten down the hatches. Next, as info begins to flow, you begin pointing fingers at North Korea. As your executives' boorish behavior and your sexist business practices are spread all over the internet, you adopt a bunker mentality. You have your high-priced, Brooks-Brothers-suited lawyers send letters to the major news outlets threatening them with legal action for doing their jobs -- reporting on the news. Then you give the theaters an opening which allows a few of them to opt out of screening the film on Opening Day. And when they opt out, you pull the film "because the cinemas will not be showing it."

You caved to the GOP. You caved to a bully and set a horrible precedent for corporate blackmail in the future. And still, to this date, you have not made a formal statement to the public or your investors.

Compare that to the case of Coravin, freshly minted producer of the freshly minted wine-extraction device.

When Coravin began getting reports of wine bottles breaking while the device was being employed, they immediately contacted the FDA. Shortly after, they wrote a very detailed letter to existing Coravin owners alerting them to the problem, telling them what they thought the problem was, and discouraging them from using the product until further notice. The keys here were: identification of the problem; taking ownership of the problem; getting the appropriate governmental officials on board early in the process; getting government officials on board voluntarily, rather than being forced to (hear that vehicle airbag manufacturer?); and early, clear communications with the customer base.

Once Coravin fully understood the problem (some bottles that were defective could break under the slight pressure exerted within the bottle by the insertion of the argon gas), they set about developing and testing a solution. Once that solution was tested and accepted by the FDA, they then sent the solution to every customer along with instructions as to its use.

Again, a timely, effective solution developed with government oversight and communication with the customer along the way. Coravin suffered very little PR damage from this affair and its openness was widely lauded.

Coravin, could you please send some of your PR people over to Sony.

And the Oscar for Best Crisis Management Response of the Year goes to -- not Sony.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme


  1. Replies
    1. I am very happy with it. The biggest problem is finding the sleeve so that I can use it safely. The President of the company did a bang-up job at DWCC14.