FORMALDEHYDE IN F MINOR: DOWNPLAYING DISCORD WITH POSITIVE SPIN
For twodifferent crisis management situations, our advice was the same: keep it positive.
One concerned a popular conductor's sudden exit that created a chorus of concern. Another was our client having to pull a popular hair-straightening product fromCanadian market because it emitted a potentially harmful gaseous byproduct when heated.
For both of these situations, the advice given by my PR firm TransMedia Group www.transmediagroup.com"> was keep it positive. TransMedia is an International PR firm that specializes in crisis management and image repair.
Just twoweeks after Riccardo Muti began his long-awaited tenure as the new music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,"Muti-mania" that had swept the Windy City came to a cymbal-crashing halt,
Mayor Richard Daley's declaration of "Riccardo Muti Day in Chicago" and the excitement fans waving "Festa Muti" flags during a free concert in Millennium Park suddenly turned into a somber symphony.
Hours before the orchestra's fall debut performance, Muti withdrew from his fall residency and flew home to Milan to consult with his doctors. After a series of medical tests, Muti cancelled the remainder of his fall schedule and theorchestraannounced Muti was suffering from "extreme exhaustion as a result of prolonged physical stress." Muti is scheduled to returnfor his winter residency starting in February.
So what's a conductor-less orchestra to do?
Stay positive wasadvice I gave Medill News Service, which ran my upbeat recommendations in a news story.
Striking a balance between informing a curious public and protectingmedical privacy of key leaders can be tricky. The best policy is to be upfront with subscribers about Muti's condition, but emphasize the value of the maestro's recovery period. In short, say enough to evoke sympathy but not enough to invade privacy.
I don't know if I would use the word 'exhaustion. I would say his overall health will improve with a short rest and vacation, I told Medill.
During a recession most people can relate to someone who is overworked and needs a rest, especially a conductor as physical as Muti, who puts a lot of himself into his work, I said.
"I would say, 'A rest will do him a world of good. He will be refreshed and better-than-ever,'" I coached in the article. "You can spin exhaustion into better-than-ever."
I suggested an encore of Muti's own words from a brief speech he gave following a concert one night when he observed that "musical conductors (even the greatest of them) come and go, but the history of this orchestra is for the future and glory of this city. Be always proud of your great orchestra."
With these words Muti uttered on stage, the maestroironically conducted his own crisis management theme for the orchestra andthe cityhe so loved and greatlyappreciated.
Being honest with the public is equally important. "If he's withdrawn for health reasons and those health reasons are not defined, one might surmise a more serious health problem," Madden said.
"The Chicago Symphony isn't the first organization to find itself with a key leader out of commission.
Apple Inc., was mired in speculation about CEO Steve Jobs' health problems, but instead of quelling the rumors and restoring shareholder confidence, the company declined to release information about Jobs' condition. The issue with Steve Jobs was that people didn't know if he was sick or dying.
The Formaldehyde matter concerned a clientfor whom we drafted this news release:
GLOBAL KERATIN APPLAUDS CANADIAN HEALTH AUTHORATIES FOR ADHERING TO HIGH SAFETY STANDARDS; SAYS ITS HAIR PRODUCTS REMAINING ON THE CANADIAN MARKET ARE IN FULL COMPLIANCE
Global Keratin, a global leader in hair care, said today that unlike competitors, it is voluntarily withdrawing only few of its hair-straightening products from Canada in full compliance with Canada's strict regulations concerning a possibly harmful gaseous byproduct, but products remaining are completely safe and in full compliance.
While competitors have had to pull all their hair-straightening products off the market, Global Keratin said it has shown its leadership in not only effectiveness, but in safety of its hair products, which it affirms are in full compliance with Canadian health standards and regulations.
The company commended Canadian authorities for leveling the field by regulating the entire industry in the interest of public health, but said it was also taking the action to remove a couple of its products out of concern for stylists who are their customers for hair straightening and other hair products.
Unlike competitors, Global Keratin will only market hair treatments containing Metholyn Glycol in miniscule or trace amounts, which are in full compliance and pose no health risks. When heated, some products containing the preservative Metholyn Glycol release trace amounts of Formaldehyde, but in such miniscule amounts that they remain harmless and full compliance with both Canadian and EU safety standards, among the strictest in the world.