How To Handle Bad Press

Tyler HurstValley PR Blog17 Comments

Online rumors can never, EVER be put back in the bag. Try as the PR world might, eliminating the source of negative allegations against a client is an impossible task. The Lavidge Company, representatives for the recently accused Jason Hope of JAWA/Cylon, has drawn the highly unenviable work.

While I certainly didn’t expect them to follow any of my previous advice, I’m a little surprised that the tactics they employed. Here’s a breakdown from my own experience:

Call
The Lavidge Company called me on Tuesday after the Valley PR post hit. There were two people on the line (forgive me if I don’t recall their names, but it was a man and a woman). They were even-tempered, non-accusatory and sounded very calm. I realize they are professionals, but for them to treat a lowly blogger with such respect was an excellent move on their part. I personally would have called a little earlier, but they did their job.

Correct
They corrected The Lavidge Company rep’s name in the story (Anne Robertson, who STILL hasn’t called me back), as I wrote it down incorrectly. They also pointed out that Jason Hope has never been convicted of any crime in relation to text message scams.

Offer information
To prove their point about Jason Hope never having been convicted of any text messaging allegations, they offered to send me documents indicating such. I never received them, and I assume they’re off with wherever Anne Robertson’s ability to call back is hiding. I’m sure other PR pros would have made damn sure those documents arrived in my inbox.

Pre-emptive strike
The BEST way to get rid of bad web publicity is to overwhelm it with GREAT publicity. As a quick Google search for Jason+Hope+Lavidge will show you, Jason Hope pledged money to Japan on March 16. My email inquiry to his Lavidge representatives on that page (which I think were the same people that called me) about how much he pledged went unanswered, although I should have followed up on that one.

What’s next?
Had I been advising Jason Hope, I probably would have told him to make himself available for interviews (he may not be able to comment because of legal issues) and published more, different information about the results of the cases that have been found in Jason Hope of JAWA/Cylon’s favor.

Right now, it looks like everyone is hiding something and while this is certainly not a court of law, nor has there ever been a guilty verdict, it sure makes it look like one of Scottsdale’s fastest-growing companies is less than legit.

Stonewalling may have worked before the web made rumor believable, but it’s not going to work now. Any tips for PR pros dealing with bad press?

Featured Image Credit: NatKirk on Flickr

Tyler HurstHow To Handle Bad Press

17 Comments on “How To Handle Bad Press”

  1. Len

    Tyler,

    Great post. There’s a little rule I always lived by as a PR professional…never lie (and ommission is as good as lying). The ONLY way to effectively deal with this is to come out and explain in an open and honest way. I’m sure the team at Lavidge has and will continue to suggest this tactic to Mr. Hope, espcially after today’s revelations. However, Hope can and may very well ignore that advice.

    By the way, if he does not come out today with a full explanation and/or apology, the only assumption we can make is that he is guilty. If he ignores Lavidge’s advice on this one they should resign the account ASAP.

  2. anony

    Do a google search not for jason hope lavidge, but just for jason hope in the past week.

    Why so many vanity sites?
    Why so many vanity sites updated with relatively insipid entries in just the past 72 hours – 1 week?

    This guy seems to be using SEO Page Rank strategies to overwhelm the news. AND, he appears to have been well prepared to do so for months.

  3. Elizabeth Hillestad

    Do you think continuing to serve as Hope’s PR counsel hurts Lavidge (and team’s) credibility and reputation?

    While we have all had difficult clients (or bosses) this is a situation where their response/approach needs to be stellar, and it appears not to be (for reasons we can only speculate).

    Hopefully they will be able to turn things around.

  4. Jennifer

    Avoidance of any press – good or bad, is not a good strategy. Hiding from bad press seems to give the bad press validity (as seems in the Jason Hope situation). And what does and IS happending is people start speculating and making their own judgments and opinions on what the truth is…..

  5. Brandon Cook

    The strategy behind the recent search results for Jason Hope is a very obvious attempt at covering up something. You have to dig 6-8 pages deep in the results to see anything other than ” Jason Hop Pledges Funds for Relief Efforts in Japan”.

    As Anony mentions above, its obvious that the finger was on the trigger ready for this. It does seem shady when some links have pulled the content, but still show up in the results – http://goo.gl/5OMVE.

  6. Jackie Wright

    Bottom line… tell the truth and don’t be greedy! When you are greedy in business, it always comes back to haunt you!

  7. Fact Checker

    I don’t understand why so much focus seems to be on the MAN and not on the actual services he provides. This isn’t organized crime. The rumors are frustrating to me because there are so many nameless Text scamming companies out there – JAWA isn’t one of them. They have terms of service, prices clearly displayed, and 2-3 step processes for actually signing up for their websites… they send you monthly text notifications before billing you AND have round the clock customer support. As the business of mobile marketing has grown and regulations have been established, they’ve had to make countless updates to keep the cell phone companies, the aggregators, AND the search engines all simultaneously happy.

    Jason Hope as a person is very charming. Very Scottsdale. He’s what you’d expect from any young millionaire entrepreneur. People have a problem with that. Hell, I know I do – but he’s not personally responsible for people not paying attention when they play around on the internet.

  8. Fact Checker

    AZDisruptors just blocked me from making any further comments on their site. I think that’s rude, given I left the same exact comment that I left for you.

    I don’t think it was out of line, do you? I know JH, I know how the company works… I was trying to offer some insight and a perspective that not many people are looking at. I REALIZE that there are some really bad people out there that are taking advantage of this whole mobile marketing age, but JAWA is smart enough, and make enough money, not to have to resort to such practices. They’ve been in the news several times for GOOD things like charities, having a revolutionary workplace, and Jason Hope is a major contributor to the new AZ Science Center remodel. He;s not just -out there- for vanity sake, but because he’s smart and generous. Why on earth would a CEO spend 1/2 mill out of pocket for a Christmas party for their employees??? Everyone does incredible work there and he wanted to reward them all.

  9. tdhurst

    Fact Checker –
    Your points are valid, though I’m not sure any of us know all that’s going on, and there is certainly a very good reason I was careful to add suspected and alleged to most of my points.

    But you have to admit there’s a feeling of impropriety here that just doesn’t add up.

    Maybe we’re all sorta wrong. But doesn’t it seem a little weird to you that no one from JAWA or Lavidge is saying much about this? I know if I was accused of something I didn’t do, I’d talk until I was cleared. I know that’s judgmental, but this isn’t a court of law, just the court of public opinion.

  10. Fact Checker

    I’m assuming that they’re not littering the news channels, websites, and blogs with anything other than their press release from a couple weeks ago because they’re hoping everything can be resolved. If they publicly fire back or go way on the defensive then wouldn’t that give their accusers more power in court? Regardless of the outcome of any pending lawsuits, further damaging their relationship with Verizon would be a bad business move.

    I don’t think they CAN legally respond at the moment.

  11. Jim Veihdeffer

    Wait a minute…”he’s not personally responsible for people not paying attention when they play around on the internet.”

    When they play around on the Internet? Is Fact Checker seriously suggesting that people are simply “playing around on the Internet” when they sign up for various apps and services?

    Fact Checker’s credibility is diminished with statements like that, particularly in light of his other comments about this “very charming” person which, frankly, read like a Jason Hope publicity page.

    It would appear that the focus is on the man rather than the business because, from what I can tell from TD’s excellent coverage on this…no one can exactly figure out what the business is and all the emphasis from the JAWA organization is on putative charitable operations.

    Sad to say, the history books are full of entrepreneurs who are famous for charitable work while ripping off the public or customers. Of course this is not to say that Hope/JAWA is that; it’s just to say that charity work does not ameliorate dishonest or unwholesome dealings in a company’s primary business.

    Oh, and by the way, if you’re main defense is that your client hasn’t been convicted, that’s not exactly a stirring testimony in his favor.

  12. Pingback: Valley PR Blog » Blog Archive » Jason Hope’s (JAWA/Cylon) lawyers send cease and desist to AZDisruptors

  13. MK

    Love the post talking about how “charming” Jason Hope is..that’s pure entertainment. I know Jawa and Hope too..and there is nothing “charming” about investigators saying he and his cohorts set up dozens of shell companies (the addresses were UPS stores!)in an effort to scam millions from unassuming cell phone users. Have you read the Verizon lawsuit??? “Charming” isn’t it? And throwing a $500,000 Holiday party for his employees??? Please! For his ego YES ..not for his employees! Gotta love a guy who insists on his guests wearing white and he shows up in a red suit.
    Oh and using charity for personal gain…that is extremely “charming.” Lavidge has put out 3 “charity” press releases since Hope’s criminal fraud charges. One release has Hope “pledging” funds to the Red Cross. Another talks of his “continued support” of the Boys and Girls Club. The third release announces “Hope supports food banks.” None of these releases were remotely newsworthy and none contained quotes from the charities themselves, which leads one to believe the charities were never contacted prior to the releases going out?
    After contacting the Red Cross and the Boys and Girls Club to make them aware these releases existed…they seemed greatly concerned and said they are “dealing with the issue on a national and local level.”
    It appears Lavidge is attaching their clients name to charities in an effort to suppress Hope’s recent bad press. This is just tacky and inappropriate for so many reasons.
    For years Hope has been throwing bones to charities or promising to “pledge” in an attempt to distract the community from hearing about allegations of years spent attempting to scam people out of millions of dollars. Prior to the charges related to the recent “text scam operation”, he was brought up on criminal charges involving an elaborate HOA scam. http://www.rwf-ent.com/entrada/CAI/Index.cfm

    There is nothing worse than exploiting charity ..and the fact that Lavidge is a direct accomplice to this kind of behavior is truly sickening.

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