Burger King Twitter Account Hacked: A Whopper of a Mess

By Gerard Braud

In 2013 there is no excuse for such failed crisis communications. Any and every company should be ready to make a public statement on any crisis in one hour or less. It is good public relations; it is good media relations; it is good crisis communication; it is good social media crisis communication.

So here it is on Monday afternoon, February 18, 2013 as I sit in my office near New Orleans and Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked nearly 4 hours ago. The hackers make it look like a McDonald’s account.


Burger King eventually managed to get Twitter to suspend the account and pull down the content and ugly comments.


But in the 140-character world of fast news, the fast food company is SLOW to officially issue a statement.




Here Burger King, I’ll help you out. Go to my website and download a sample of what a First Critical Statement should look like:


Type in the coupon code: CRISISCOMPLAN

That way you can have it for free. And anyone else reading this blog can have it for free as well.



Every company should have a template like this for fast release to the media, your customers and to your website. In the crisis communications plans I write, this template would then have 100 more companion templates with more pre-written details about every type of crisis imaginable.

The time to prepare these responses is on a clear sunny day before you need them. The worst time to write a response to a crisis is during the crisis.

Burger King’s Facebook page is full of comments by followers, but Burger King hasn’t even bothered to post anything on their Facebook page to acknowledge this unfolding social media and public relations crisis. This is simply failed public relations and failed crisis communications.


Burger King’s official web page has a page for news releases, but as I write this nearly 4 hours after the crisis began, there is no official statement about the hacking from Burger King.


There is a page with names of media contacts. You would think one of these people would be issuing a statement, but no, that isn’t happening.



I decided to send them e-mail, but no one has replied.











I did find a news story on the Associated Press website that said, “Burger King plans to issue an apology later today.” Really? Later? How about right now? How about an hour or less after the event happened.











And just before hitting “publish” on this blog, I’ve tripped across a Chicago Tribune story with an apology message from Burger King.

Here is the statement it took Burger King 4 plus hours to write:

“We apologize to our fans and followers who have been receiving erroneous tweets about other members of our industry and additional inappropriate topics,” Burger King said in a statement to the Tribune this afternoon.

Long story short: Burger King PR Team – you guys are failures.

The next question is will the PR people who read this immediately gather their team together and update their crisis communications plan and prepare for a hack of their own social media accounts, or will they simply go about their daily PR task and hope it never happens to them?





The Worst Speech in the World

The Worst Speech in the World

By Gerard Braud

©2012 Diversified Media, LLC dba Gerard Braud Communications

Preamble: CEOs and executives use far too many buzzwords and clichés. Soon the bad language infects the entire company. So when the International Association of Business Communicators asked me to present a session called, “Don’t Say That! Say This!,” I went to LinkedIn and asked you to list the buzzwords and clichés you hate the most. The discussion has gone on for more than 4 months. I’ve collected comments from more than 270 people and combined them here to create what I call, “The Worst Speech in the World.”

Now put yourself in the zone. Imagine you are in the audience as your boss takes the stage and says the following:

As you are aware, I’m delighted that we’re here to announce some things you are unaware of.

We’re excited and pleased about this innovative, world class, value added opportunity to leverage customer-centric opportunities that, at the end of the day, create a value proposition and ROI second to none.

Not withstanding, I think you would all agree that we have to think outside the box if we want to drill down and chase after the low hanging fruit.

This is why our people are our greatest asset; our vital human capitol, especially those recently laid off during the downsizing, right sizing, outsourcing and strategic realignment phase, creating an opportunity for us to fulfill our leadership imperative do more with less as we execute against our objectives.

Now don’t get me wrong; we’re going to need to utilize long skis and transparency. Our valued shareholders expect us to offer them an open kimono.

Basically, this will be an iconic, strategic initiative that allows us to productionize and incentivize value added commodities.

Let me be clear… Clearly, we need to expand band width so we can deep dive and ramp up, and adjust to the moving targets associated with each strategic objective.

There are no dumb ideas; there are no dumb questions. It may be a dicey situation, but we need to think laterally and pick each other’s brains.

If you get a brain fart, run it up the flag pole and circle back to make sure it is implemented in a cost effective manner consistent with our mandate to implement our objectives.

In today’s climate, you can’t have a mega-brand or big box bricks and mortar location without tactical execution going forward.

Quick wins are quick wins, but long-term gains are long-term gains, irregardless of the potential for sustainability.

One doesn’t pursue a blue ocean strategy with only the goal to get a leg up on the competition. That would be like drinking our own Kool-Aid from a fire hose.

Our next breakout requires each of you to facilitate, coordinate and expedite each aspect of our projected paradigm shift.

We must be willing to lean forward and buy into the mission critical, turn-key aspects of our shovel ready agenda.

In life there are teachable moments that require us to circle the wagons.

That doesn’t mean we need to go back to square one and start at ground zero. We can harness the potential of our momentum to catapult us forward.

Sure, if we say jump out the window we want you to jump out the window. But at the same time we want you to think for yourself.

Some of you will have questions about the synergistic aspects, but there will be time to talk offline and touch base as we dialogue about our mission with our core internal audiences. That is why we have employee engagement strategies that harness the powers of social media, which replace our previous trend to blog, which replaced our wikis, which replaced water cooler talk.

We know the general public wants to peel back the onion to find out if we’ve hit our sweet spot. We’ll provide air cover for you so you have time to massage it and see what comes out of the other side.

Cross-functional socialization is one approach, provided we can monetize our deliverables. Some of you may want to let it marinate as you chew on it or mull it over.  This shouldn’t be something you stew over. We may want to circle back and dialogue about whether this keeps you up at night. That would be my ask. And we need to complete this task before any of you holiday.

We think our new initiatives may optimize our execution, resulting in a game changer. We will want to engage all employees and blue sky this so everyone has visibility.

We need to land this one well for maximum impact as we onboard the customer-engagement engine, including face-time for everyone, especially those of you who are lowest on the food chain.

With that said, in the past we’ve spent too much time herding cats and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, which does nothing to help us break the silos.

In the C-Suite, we don’t offer seats at the table or a place under the tent to those who are not ready to support our blueprint for change, by erecting strategic pillars that allow us to run the plays and roll down efforts to eradicate flight risks.

If we noodle over our touch points from 40,000 feet, it will incentivize us to get our arms around the scaling that will put us all on the same page so we are fully bright.

If we’re going to be on the same team we need to harness the power of our associates and level the playing field by walking the walk and talking the talk.

Our go-to must be more than a single belly button, tin cupping our units. Tension in the system is only achieved when we go beyond sucking the marrow out our robust assets.

Going forward we’re tasked to find space to hold calibration meetings to discuss right shoring opportunities that allow us to task and architect a solution as we champion the benefits of going the extra mile.

Normally, at this point, I would take questions, but for the first time ever, I don’t think that will be necessary. I think I can simply conclude, because each of you has clear marching orders.

Media Training and Crisis Communications Tip: Reporters Will Interview Anyone Who Will Talk (Who Are Often People with No Teeth and Live in Trailers)

Let’s be respectful here and realize that many poor people don’t have either dental insurance or the ability to pay out of pocket for dental care. And let’s realize that while hoping to someday fulfill the dream of home ownership, many people live in an affordable alternative – a mobile home.

Let’s also recognize that many of these people are in lower income brackets and therefore also tend to live near industrial facilities where the more affluent members of society may work, but do not live.

With all of that out of the way, let me acknowledge that when I was a journalist, people would actually ask me, “Why do reporters always interview people with no teeth who live in trailers?”

The answer was, because when the industrial facility blew up, no one from the company would agree to an interview with us. The people living near the facility were the only eye witnesses and they were willing to speak.

If you work for a company that has a crisis, you have the responsibility to provide a spokesperson as soon as the media arrives. Usually the media will be on site within 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon the crisis. And as more media outlets become dependent upon web based audiences, their need for news is even more immediate.isis-Communication-Plan-In-Action-Braud Communications

Reporters need facts and quotes and they are going to get them from somewhere. It is their job to get interviews and their job is on the line if they do not deliver.

If you don’t give the information to the reporter, the reporter will go get it from someone else and that someone else will likely not represent your point of view.

And as the age of Social Media and web based tools expands, more and more media outlets are dependent upon digital photos and video taken by eyewitnesses. A simple cell phone is capable of doing an enormous amount of reputational damage by providing the media with pictures and video.

So what do you do?

First you need to establish policy and practices that insure you have a spokesperson ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

Secondly, you need to have a crisis communications plan that contains a vast array of pre-written statements designed to address all of the many crises your organization could face.

With those two things, a spokesperson should be able to pull a pre-written template out of the crisis communications plan and walk out to the media to deliver that statement. It also allows your organization to post the template to the web, email it to the media, employees and other key audiences.

Even if you only have partial facts, your organization still needs to make a statement. And it is critical that the statement is delivered by a person and not just issued on paper or via the web. The human element is critical in gaining the trust of the media, employees and other key audiences. A written statement is simply a cold cluster of words.

In my world, the spokesperson should be able to deliver the statement live within one hour or less. It should never be longer than an hour and hopefully much sooner than an hour.

One of the biggest delays in issuing statements is the lengthy process of waiting of executives and lawyers to approve a statement. This delay should be eliminated with the pre-written statements. The statements should be pre-approved by executives and the legal department so that the public relations or communications department can issue statements quickly.

Certain portions of the template must be fill-in-the-blank, and the communications department must be authorized to fill in the blanks with information such as time, date, and other critical facts. Executives and lawyers need to establish a trusting relationship with the communications department so that they help speed up the process rather than hinder and delay the communications process.

When you follow these simple steps, you begin to manipulate the media because you are meeting their wants, needs and desires.  You also become their friend. The more you can provide the media with information, the less need they have to interview an ill informed eyewitness who is thrilled to have their 15 minutes of fame. The more you can occupy the media’s time, the less time they have to spend interviewing people with no teeth who live in a trailer.

Check out my 2-day crisis communications plan course: You will knock out your plan and templates so your organization is never ill-represented in the media.

Virginia Tech Shooting Today: Crisis Communications Case Unfolding – Social Media Impact

Virginia Tech has another school shooting today. Two have died. Please keep these people in your prayers today.

For those who are students of Crisis Communications – both university students and public relations professionals wishing to learn more about proper crisis communications in the age of social media – today is sadly one of those days when you can watch a crisis unfold in the Social Media and online world.

The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting was characterized by slow communications. The first official notice to students in 2007 went out 2 hours and 10 minutes after the first 2 victims were shot, which was also 10 minutes after 30 more people were killed. I’ve long contended that slow communications lead to 30 unnecessary deaths.

Today’s Virginia Tech shooting has had rapid notice by text alert and numerous updates to the Virginia Tech home page

Follow #VT on Twitter to study how this social media venue unfolds.

Like the VT Facebook page to watch the wide variety of comments.

You will see many YouTube videos. I’ve posted this video for you.

Follow some of the online links like this. This is an example of the types of social media some of you may sadly face some day; the types of social media you must prepare for.

Among the crisis communications trends you should follow is whether Facebook becomes a place where students complain because their text messages were slow in arriving and whether they were unable to access information on the Virginia Tech website. During a university or school crisis, it may take 20 to 30 minutes before all students receive their text message. Also, high traffic keeps people from getting updates on the official website.

As you follow Twitter messages about the Virginia Tech shooting, pay close attention to the problems caused by well intentioned people who re-Tweet old and incorrect communications and information. In other school shootings that I have studied since the advent of Twitter, it has been my experience that hours after an all clear has been communicated, people will re-Tweet old messages warning of the shooting as though it is still happening. This is one of the reasons I hate social media when a crisis is unfolding.

To discuss what you may need to prepare of a similar crisis at your school, university or corporation, please contact me via the Braud Communications website or the

Media Training and Crisis Communication Training: The Myth about 3 Key Messages

Media training teaches the concept of identifying your “3 Key Messages.”  In other words, what are the 3 most important things you need to communicate during your interview with the reporter?

But what exactly is a key message? Is it a bullet point? Is it a talking point? Is it a set of words that incorporate more spin than truth? Is it a set of verbatim words that incorporate both truth and quotes?

In my world, it is a set of verbatim words that incorporate both truth and quotes. But many media trainers teach only bullet points and talking points. I call this “The Myth About 3 Key Messages.”

Let’s put this in the context of a U.S. political candidate in a debate with his or her opponent. The moderator of the debate might ask a question such as, “Please give me your thoughts on education.”

The candidate, whose strategist may have determined that the key messages should only be about energy, the economy and international relations, is left with nothing to say. Therefore, the candidate will BS his or her way through 50 seconds of a 60 second answer, then conclude by saying, “Education is important and you can get more details on my website.”

That is such bull!

When you give a spokesperson or executive only bullet points and talking points for an interview, you give them license to ad lib. Have you ever seen anyone who can truly ad lib well? They are few and far between. The person who ad libs is doing what? They are winging it! And when you wing it you crash and burn.

You should start an interview with 3 key AREAS that you want to talk about. For each of those areas, you should have learned and internalized several pre-written sentences that are also very quotable sentences. Then, each of those 3 areas should have 3 key messages of their own, that are well written, internalized and quotable. And conceivably, each of those 3 key messages will have 3 more messages to go with them.

Think of your conversation as a large live oak tree like you see in the south. Picture that tree with a huge, study trunk and 3 large branches. Your “Tree Trunk Message” should consist of 2 sentences that anchor the entire conversation. These are the first words out of your mouth when the reporter asks the first question and they provide context for the entire conversation. Both sentences must be quotable.

Next, write 2 more sentences for each of those 3 large branches that grow from the tree trunk. These sentences must also be highly quotable and will add a few more overarching facts and point to other important areas that you may want to talk about.

Now add 3 limbs to each of the large branches. Then add 3 twigs to each of the limbs. Then add 3 leaves to each of the twigs. Ultimately, just as a tree sprouts limbs, twigs and leaves, your conversation needs to sprout additional sentences with slightly more detail. Draw it out. If you can visualize the tree, you will begin to understand how the conversation grows.

In our visualization, the leaves represent great detail while the tree trunk and 3 branches symbolize very basic facts. If you invest time to populate your tree with verbatim, quotable sentences that you internalize, your next interview will be the easiest interview ever. Basically, your populated tree has created a full conversation and an interview should be a conversation. It should tell a story.

The Conversation Tree analogy has prepared us to tell our story in the inverted pyramid style – the same style reporters use when they write.

Is this easy? No. Does it take preparation? Absolutely. How much preparation? An interview is as important as any business deal. If you could attach a dollar to every word that comes out of your mouth, would you make money or lose money?

Bottom line – know what you want to say, know it verbatim, and be prepared to tell a story.

Media Training Coach Tip: The Facts Don’t Matter

One day, as a joke in the newsroom, I uttered the phrase, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” We all laughed. A colleague was pushing for a story to make the evening news, but there were lots of holes in the story and I wanted my story to be the lead story. I won and got the lead story. The colleague’s story was killed.

gerard braud media training facts

Over the years we used the joke several times daily just to raze each other. But then we began to realize that way too much of what made the news at our TV station and at those of our competitors, made the news regardless of the facts. Ultimately, it was one of the reasons I left the news business after a great 15-year ride.

But let’s be honest. How many news stories are filled with facts? The truth is, not a lot. Newspaper stories will always have more details than TV and radio news reports. But TV stories, especially, are driven by visual images. The example that I always use is that if the story is about a brown cow, I need video of a brown cow. If I have no video of a brown cow, I can’t put the story on the evening news.

Another example I always use is the mixed metaphor that says, “If a tree falls in the woods and it is not on video, is it news?”

When I used to cover hurricanes in the ‘80s and ‘90s I was always upset when I didn’t have video of something blowing away. I needed the visual on video to tell the story.

I laughed a few years ago when there was a news report about a landslide in Japan. A highway traffic camera captured trees sliding down the side of a hill. It was only news because there was dramatic video. Trust me, as a guy who has worked around the world and extensively in the Pacific Rim, there are landslides all over the world every day. This one happened to be captured on video and therefore became news.

A print reporter will likely write only a 12-20 sentence synopsis, a radio reporter is only writing 6-8 sentences and a TV reporter is only writing 10-12 sentences.

The average person tries to give way, way, way too many facts in a news interview. Take this comment with a grain of salt, but the reporter doesn’t really care about you or the facts. Sure, they seem interested in you, but their report is more important to them personally than your facts.

A news report is a puzzle. Certain pieces must fit exactly together. In a TV report, quotes make up one-third of the story. The lead and the conclusion together make up one-third of the story. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but can you guess how much room we have in the story for your facts? In a TV news report, that equals 4 sentences. In a print report that equals 8-12 sentences.

If there is no room in the story for a bunch of facts, why would you spend so much time giving lots of facts to the reporter? Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Don’t Talk to the Media – Gerard Braud’s New Media Training Book

Gerard Braud outlines the 29 Secrets you need to know before you open your mouth to a reporter. Get more details at: http://www.donttalktothemedia.com/

University of South Florida Gunman

University of South Florida in Tampa — A story is unfolding about a possible gunman on campus. It appears text messaging and loud speakers are being used on campus. The school has a notice on their home page. Good use of the website.


I have not yet found a news release in their online newsroom:


Here is the first news story I’ve seen:

I’m finding evidence of a NIMs type emergency operations plan, but I’m not finding a true crisis communications plan.

So far I’m not finding any web videos.

There is chatter on Twitter.

Stand by for further evaluation.

An April Fool Who Lost His Crisis Communications Plan

Imagine you invest lots of time and money to develop and write your crisis communications plan, then you lose it. It’s happening more often than you might think.

To find out how and why this is happening, take a listen to today’s BraudCast.

Gerard’s Top 5 Tips for 2009 – Day 5 – Social Media Training

In 2009 I think you need to introduce Social Media Training where you work. I started teaching Social Media Training for 2 reasons and the classes generally take 2 forms. One form is to teach executives and blog leaders the proper way to communicate in online forums. The second form is to help executives realize that their bad behavior on and off the job can easily be recorded on a video cell phone and posted to YouTube for all to see, doing more damage than an old style ambush interview by traditional media.

For those of you with executives who participate or lead online forums, I’d ask you to ask and answer these questions to determine if you need Social Media Training:

• Does the executive know how to use key messages when communicating online?

• Does the executive know how to handle negative comments online?

• How well do the executive’s comments hold up when they are run through cynic filter?

• Does the executive’s comments ever sound angry, defensive or hostile online?

• Does the executive know the power of a question?

Let me respond to each of these:

Social media, especially participation in a blog, requires a certain degree of rawness. It would be a mistake to fill a blog with lots of PRBS. But at the same time, there is a case to be made for staying on message and guiding the discussion, just as one learns in traditional media training. Blog leaders need to realize that what they say is not a naked conversation, but a conversation that is on the record for all the world to see. Through good Social Media Training you can have the best of both worlds.

Negative comments arise quickly in social spaces. They can be harsh and mean. In conventional Media Training you are taught how to handle a negative question from a reporter. Some of those same techniques can be effective online.

The blogosphere is a very cynical place. Training will help a blog leader, podcaster or video caster look at their own comments from the cynic’s point of view.

Anger is the worst way to respond in conventional media and also the worst way to respond in social media. He who keeps his cool wins, in my opinion. The person who takes the humble position will ultimately gain public favor. Even if you are confronted with anger, the right move is to respond with kindness and respect, to use your training techniques for addressing negatives and to fall back to your key messages where appropriate.

I’ve been successfully teaching that one of the most powerful tools in online response is to ask a question, rather than respond defensively. For example, if someone makes a negative comment, rather than trying to shoot down the comment, ask the other person a question, such as, “could you elaborate more on your thoughts so I can better understand your point of view?” I have found that when they further explain their position, it begins to fall apart and exposes lies, rumors and innuendos. This creates a platform for you to toss out the lies, rumors and innuendos, then explain your position as it pertains to the remaining issues. Sometimes you won’t even have to respond because others will shoot down the lies, rumors and innuendos for you.

These are the primary points to cover for executives who proactively participate in social media.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who don’t have a clue about viral videos and then get recorded on camera behaving badly in either an official or social capacity. I’ve seen countless examples of reputations being destroyed, jobs being lost and irreparable harm being done in such situations.

To give you a few examples, a few years ago at a gathering of U.S. Marines, a Marine leader was giving a hoorah type speech. He thought he was among an audience that was in 100 percent agreement with him and loyal to the esprit de corps. The father of a Marine was video taping the speech when the leader made negative comments about gays. The father was offended and handed the tape over to the media. The media showed the video and the leader career was swiftly terminated.

This scenario points out that leaders need to be admonished that they are potentially being recorded 24/7/365. And while the example I gave resulted in the mainstream media becoming involved, in the world of YouTube those same videos can be quickly posted to the web for the entire connected world to see. Then the blogosphere lights up with comments about the video.

The viral video world also means that some of your official corporate videos are being seen by audiences that you never expected to have access. As you produce corporate videos, you need to run them through the cynic filter and ask yourself how would the outside world respond if they saw this video. A case in point is a video by Ernst & Young. It appears the video was shot at a corporate leadership meeting and then shown at a larger annual meeting. Based on my video experience, it was a very expensive video to produce, complete with a band and “hot girl” lead singer. For the video, the company took the liberty of changing the lyrics of a traditional Gospel song, called, “Oh Happy Days.” Whereas the original lyrics included the phrase, “Oh happy days, when Jesus was born,” the new lyrics said, “Oh happy days at Ernst & Young.” Yes, they took Jesus out. This created an uproar once the video became viral. Wow, good thing they didn’t parody a song of Islam and remove the name of Mohammad. As I first viewed the video, my cynic filter notice that there was only one black person in the entire video and the only Latino or Hispanic individuals were seen working in the kitchen. Additionally, with respect to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who tells us that whites clap on beats 1 and 3 while blacks clap on beats 2 and 4, I noticed that in many respects he is right and that in many respects, many of the people in the video cannot find beats 1 and 3 or 2 and 4. This is especially true for the bearded guy down front who is seen more times than anyone else. I’m guessing he is the CEO. Watch the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaIq9o1H1yo

In other cases, individuals make fools of themselves in media interviews, only to have the media or a viewer upload the video to the web. In one such example, a county commissioner is confronted by a reporter following a public hearing. When the commissioner is questioned by the reporter, every one of the commissioner’s responses centers around asking the reporter if he knows that Jesus loves him. Such a response was not germane to the question and positioned the commissioner as a buffoon. In years past, such a video would have only been seen 2 or 3 times on the news, resulting in a few days of teasing for the commissioner. These days, the video lives forever on the web for all to laugh at. See it at: http://www.myragantv.com/video/?d=299 or at: http://blurbomat.com/archives/2007/10/10/gotta-love-jesus/

There are also a bevy of blogs that comment about this video.

Recently I was training a client who happened to be a public official. While we were out in public, the official got in a shouting match with 3 people in their 20s. I quickly intervened, because I feared one of them would whip out a cell phone and record video.

The fact is, old style ambush media interviews have been replaced by viral media and most people over 35 years old don’t have a clue about viral media. I see this as one of the biggest threats to reputations and profits in 2009.

Well there you have it, five days worth of information I think you need to know to make 2009 a good year.

If you have questions about any of the things I discussed, just pick up the phone and call me at 985-624-9976 or send an e-mail to me. The address is gerard@braudcommunications.com

Best of luck to you in your communications endeavors for the coming year.