On Saturday April 28, 2018 Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership fellow Holly Helstrom guest lectured for the second time in an advanced elective on crisis communication taught by Logos Institute executive director Helio Fred Garcia.

Ms. Helstrom spent the afternoon discussing with students the perils and opportunities presented by social media to organizations facing crises. She walked the students through a number of compelling case studies that demonstrate this dual nature, including two separate case studies involving Starbucks; one that demonstrates how the permanency of what gets shared on the Internet can be a continuing challenge for organizations, exemplified by a rumor dating back to May 2004 that was still being repeated on Starbucks’ Facebook page as recently as November 2017. The other illustrated the effectiveness of a compassionate, human tone in crisis response as demonstrated by CEO of Starbucks Kevin Johnson’s video apology to the two men wrongfully arrested last month at a Philadelphia Starbucks store. Johnson was widely praised for his apology and as a result able to protect Starbucks’ stock from further avoidable harm. Juxtaposed with a case study on CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg’s (five days delayed) response to the Cambridge Analytica crisis – and subsequent damage to Facebook’s stock price – the case studies were powerful enhancements to the students’ learning experience.

The main point of the lesson was how social media can be tremendously harmful – or helpful – to organizations in their crisis response efforts. But just like crises themselves, to the degree it is harmful or helpful is contingent on how the organization and its leadership decide to act.

Ms. Helstrom’s other research areas of interest at the Logos Institute include gender and leadership, and the intersection of ethics, society, and technology.

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