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What to Do When Things Go Wrong in PR

By Jason Mudd

October 2022 – Corporate Comms Strategies to Use in Unprecedented Situations


A person cooking meat.

A slew of recent headlines has showcased a unique challenge for PR teams — how to approach bad publicity and what to say when there is no precedent to take. We’ll look at two examples, one bad and one good, of how to shape your communications strategy in unprecedented times.





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  1. Beyond Meat’s PR Nightmare Inside of an Existential Crisis
  2. Pitching Patagonia’s Purpose-Driven Business Model  
  3. 60-Second Close: Sailing Through Uncharted Waters Takes Grit

1. Beyond Meat’s PR Nightmare Inside of an Existential Crisis

  • Beyond Meat, known for its plant-based burgers and meats, was once the darling of Wall Street investors and eco-conscious consumers alike. However, a recent incident in which chief operating officer (COO), Douglas Ramsey, was arrested for brutally biting another man’s nose during a fight comes as the company is desperately trying to reshape the brand.

  • The timing for a high-viz executive committing such a bizarre act couldn’t be worse as Beyond Meat sees its losses mount and sales flat line. News about the incident spread quickly across social media, eliciting memes and calls to abandon the brand altogether.

  • At Axia Public Relations, I can attest that there will be bad days. Perhaps you won’t face an executive at your company biting another man’s nose, but there will likely still be “bad press” at some point. In these times, I’ve found tools like crisis communications management are vital for rebuilding brand trust after negativity strikes

2. Pitching Patagonia’s Purpose-Driven Business Model

  • Patagonia is an outdoor clothing icon known around the world for its focus on sustainability and the environment. However, its CEO just dropped a bombshell as he essentially gave away the company in an effort to combat climate change.

  • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is a concept that is becoming increasingly important for today’s savvy consumers to see in the brands they interact with. The absolutely unprecedented move of giving away a multi-billion dollar company to remain “purpose-driven” bears thought. 

  • Patagonia’s corporate comms team deserves credit as they’ve launched an incredible campaign to capture greater loyalty from even outside their core consumer base during this time. Measuring success in PR is one part science (yes, we use data-driven insights to garner great results), but it’s also another part of examining the “why.” Patagonia has just provided the “why” to lead its vision for decades to come.

3. 60-Second Close: Sailing Through Uncharted Waters Takes Grit

  • In PR, trouble will come. Taking tough press and turning it into a positive takes authenticity. Effective crisis communications minimize the damage and build deeper trust with your audience.

  • Unprecedented actions, like giving away an entire company, require unprecedented strategy across news, social, and web media. When done correctly, capturing the essence of the moment can catapult a brand to storied heights.

At Axia, we’re PR experts who have faced our fair share of unprecedented times with our clients. Not sure how to handle good or bad press? Just ask me how we can help you navigate uncharted waters.


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axia-jason-mudd-portraitClients love Jason’s passion, candor, and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He's advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author, and entrepreneur and earned his certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002. Learn more about Jason.


Photo by Min An

Topics: environmental, crisis communications, 60-Second Impact

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