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June 24, 2011
What If You Were On This 'Doomsday List' ?
 
Suppose you worked, or indeed work, at one of these companies, which 24/7 Wall Street predicts will disappear in the next 18 months: Sears, Sony Pictures, American Apparel, Nokia, Saab, A&W All-American Foods Restaurants, Soap Opera Digest, Sony Ericsson, MySpace or Kellog's Corn Pops. What PR/marketing strategies would you be recommending to help prove these guys wrong?

24/7 Wall Street doesn't just throw darts at lists of companies. Last year it predicted the demise of T-Mobile and Blockbuster, while missing the mark on Kia, Moody's, BP and Zale. Being on the list is probably no surprise for the predictors take a "methodical approach" that uses such indicators as "(1) a rapid fall-off in sales and steep losses; (2) disclosures by the parent of the brand that it might go out of business; (3) rapidly rising costs that are extremely unlikely to be recouped through higher prices; (4) companies which are sold; (5) companies that go into bankruptcy; (6) firms that have lost the great majority of their customers; or (7) operations with rapidly withering market share."

Maybe it's too late for a concerted PR/communication strategy when forces like these are at work. Yet maybe the corporate chiefs are too insulated from guidance that could reconnect them with a future. Whatever. It's an interesting exercise to think about what course the PR department — presuming that companies supposedly at death's door still have one — ought to take to prevent their demise. Are acquisitions or other financial dealings the only hope for keeping "doomed" brands alive?

We're not close enough to any of these scenes to know what might be sensible PR/marketing guidance. But picture yourself in any situation in which dire financial pressures are being felt. What would you recommend to management? For starters, we'd suggest a retreat by top management at which PR conducts a no-holds-barred review of how well the company is relating to its publics, both internal and external. That ought to be done, actually, before the handwriting appears on the wall.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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