July 20, 2017
It’s been quite a busy summer for Disney. With a fair share of controversy, it’s safe to say Disney’s public relations team has been working hard all summer long. If you’re not familiar with the headlines, here’s what’s been going on at Disney in 2017 and three PR lessons you can learn from Mickey and crew, along with their competitor.
- Universal Studio's Volcano Bay opened in May and, as the Orlando Sentinel reported, things didn’t go swimmingly. With long lines, breakdowns and shortages of tubes and chairs, people didn’t waste time submitting less than great reviews of their experiences. And the media didn’t hold back on reporting about the mess.
Lesson: Hype and excitement for a new attraction means nothing if that attraction doesn’t deliver. While the PR team isn’t responsible for the logistics problems at the park, it still has to clean up the public relations mess. Following a less-than-smooth opening, PR should be at the table as Universal leadership determines how to improve the park through better communication – internally and externally.
- Shortly after Volcano Bay’s lackluster opening, Vice Media released articles headlined: "Here's the Secret Backstage Trump Drama a Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents" and "Behind the Scenes of Disney's Donald Trump 'Hall of Presidents' Installation,” which started rumors – and controversy – surrounding an alleged lack of a speaking role for President Trump’s likeness in the exhibit.
Lesson: Combat falsehoods by communicating facts. Media and PR pros are no strangers to the threat of fake news these days. Your PR team must remain calm and communicative when your company is the victim of a fake news story. By releasing statements with accurate facts, Disney quickly dispelled the Vice story.
- Disney also announced this summer that it was making an important change to its “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. The company said it was doing away with the “Wench Auction.” Instead of auctioning women, the auction will feature a mix of men and women auctioning off personal goods such as jewelry and clocks. Disney clearly doesn’t want to be associated with an action of sex slavery, however, as CNN reports, not everyone is happy with the change.
Lesson: Doing what’s right is always the right decision. While changing the exhibit may not have settled well with Disney loyalists and traditionalists, Disney made the right call and is sending a stronger message to the children of the future who visit.
PR can be complex and difficult to control for any organization. With the right team in place to help put out the fires and speak your organization's truth, you can weather any storm. Let us know how Axia Public Relations can support your PR team. Give us a call today or download our e-book Managing Public Relations in a Crisis for tips to combat fake news about your company.
Julie Miller is a marketing and communications professional with more than seven years of experience in the industry. She specializes in technology, digital marketing and communications. Julie has worked for Axia Public Relations since November 2015. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
Featured image credit: Creative Commons