By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator Of PrPro And Owner Of Energy PR
Last week Disney took the unprecedented step of issuing a profits warning. It expects a loss of up to $200 million on its latest offering — John Carter — ranking the movie among Hollywood's all-time biggest money-losers.
The film’s mega-flop status is obviously bad news and a dent in the reputation of the studio which has kept us otherwise royally entertained over the years. However with considerable other business interests, including theme parks and pay-tv channels like ESPN, it is not a massive threat to the business as a whole.
So why am I mentioning this? The reason is that while the film may be a bit of a turkey, Disney has shown that it’s lost none of its touch when it comes to PR. Rather than sitting on the bad news and letting it fester away, the company decided to get on with it and confront it fast.
When it comes to bad news that you know is going to come out, this is by far the best approach. Burying your head in the sand and hoping things will blow over doesn’t work, and in PR terms it just makes the problem worse.
By taking command Disney has communicated that it’s master of its destiny. Its language has been clear and it hasn’t made mealy-mouthed excuses. Despite a brilliant pedigree in terms of its director (John Carter’s director won Oscars for best animated features with his past films Finding Nemo and Wall-E) this film just hasn’t worked...There you have it. The deed is done, the news is shared.
Of course, PR pro that it is, Disney has also taken the bad news moment as an opportunity to talk up the great things still to come from the studio such as "The Avengers" from its Marvel subsidiary set for release in May and Pixar's "Brave" out in June.
This no-nonsense approach has gone down well with that toughest of audiences, the City. Analyst David Joyce from Miller Tabak, according to the Huffington Post said: "It's good that Disney's airing their dirty laundry now."
So, while you hopefully won’t have business disasters of such cinematic proportions, do take a leaf out of Disney’s book. Fantasy is wonderful fun but when bad news about your business looks set to break, be real, move promptly. Don’t try to kid yourself (or others) that it’s not happening.
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