Bimbo Banter


How To Tell People Not To Panic

As readers of our BIMBO Memo know, convincing someone not to panic isn’t achieved by saying “Don’t panic.” This is fast becoming one of the top denial mistakes in recent history. It’s understandable. When there’s great uncertainty and potential deadly…more 


Can A Tie Produce A Win?

Has Pro Football Hall of Fame wide-receiver Randy Moss found a path out of the tricky situation the NFL finds itself in? The issue, of course, is the situation with the national anthem and Old Glory, the American flag. The…more 


Is Your Company Ready For a Cyber Attack?

A recent news story tells the tale of government workers in a small Alaskan town who became dependent upon typewriters to do their jobs after cyber criminals infected their computer systems with ransomware. How are your typewriter skills? Are your…more 


Choose Wisely: How Papa John’s Proved Hiring the Right Crisis Communications Firm Matters

Readers of the BIMBO Memo are familiar with our focus on “bad words” and their tendency to replicate and cause trouble. This is certainly true of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and his now-infamous use of the “n-word.” Our comment…more 


Finding Their Way?

Wells Fargo has a new, multi-million-dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing consumers that its well-publicized regulatory problems have been settled. (Recap: Wells has been fined over a billion and a half dollars to settle revelations that it opened hundreds of…more 


How Not to Answer an Accusation

A version of this article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal Opinion section. Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri is in trouble thanks to an allegation that he had an affair with a hairdresser. He didn’t do himself any favors…more 


The Definition of a Friend

Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of NewsMax, appeared on PBS Monday night and was described as a “friend” of President Trump’s. He dropped the bombshell that the president was considering firing Robert Mueller, the just-appointed Special Counsel, charged with investigating…more 


The Comedian Who Cried Trump

“He broke me,” sobbed so-called comedian Kathy Griffin reacting to the virtually universal condemnation of her stunt of holding up a severed bloodied (plastic) head of President Donald Trump. In the resulting outcry, CNN announced Griffin would not be hosting…more 


Setting the Stage: The First Comment

Setting the stage, or more accurately, setting expectations is imperative in crisis management. The initial findings are rarely confirmed and your spokesperson should choose a response that implies the process is fluid. We call this the first comment and it…more 


We Didn’t Start the Fyre

How do you start a Fyre in the middle of the Caribbean? Apparently, you don’t. The social media influencer myth is starting to unravel. If you haven’t been indulging in schadenfreude over the disaster that was musical artist Ja Rule’s…more 


United Breaks Communication Rules

Amongst United's PR nightmare, the Dallas Business Journal looked to quote Merrie Spaeth, Jimmy Kimmel and fellow Dallas communicator Jo Trizila. You can read the full article in the DBJ, but we've pulled out our top three lessons here: Ask…more 


Influencing Memory: What Matters is What People Remember

If you’re a Spaeth devotee, you know that our fundamental insight is to structure communication to influence what a listener hears, believes and remembers.  A recent article from an editor at Scientific American, describes how much of what we remember…more 


No, We Don’t Cause Anything

If we could give you the perfect Spaeth-themed holiday gift, it might be this Comcast video. The delight centers on the power of an anecdote (as Merrie likes to say, “Isn’t all evidence anecdotal?”) and journeys through several communication lessons:…more 


The Power of the Personal Anecdote

Two things in life are certain:  death and taxes. And in the realm of business travel, I’d like to add “flight delays” to the aforementioned list. I generally feel overdue for a delay about every third flight. Like clockwork, I…more 


An Olympic-Sized Guarantee You’ll Regret Making

Just ten days ago, International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mario Andrada guaranteed that Olympians would compete safely in the 2016 games. That “guarantee” was a risky assurance in light of Zika fears, high crime reports and dilapidated housing for the athletes.…more 


Can You Guarantee:  The Olympic Committee Gives it a Try

“Can you guarantee that X won’t happen?” That’s one of our formula questions; that is, it should be expected in certain circumstances. When there’s an accident or something goes wrong, the question is, “Can you guarantee it won’t happen again?”…more 


#DallasStrong Communication

Tragedies now stream in real time. Unfortunately, we have too many examples to illustrate the pervasiveness of these sorts of shootings. Beginning this week in Baton Rouge and escalating to another tragic death in Minnesota live-streamed by the victim’s fiancée,…more 


Red Alert: Security is a Job for Everyone

“Employees are our most important asset.” How many times have we heard that mantra? Employees are the face of the company. Employees create our culture. We’ve preached that for 30 years, and we think we were among the first to…more 


A Failure to Communicate

Paul Newman’s immortal words in the 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke” are also the headline of an article in HRMagazine about the latest survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.   Their findings aligned perfectly with what we’ve…more 


The Benefits of a Great Reputation

It’s true that a great reputation takes years to build and can be lost in an instant, but a stellar reputation can also be very handy in rough moments. A great example is the front page editorial in the Dallas…more 


A Frog in a Sock

Monday, we reported on the stiff, unrehearsed apology Johnny Depp and Amber Heard gave to the Australian government for not declaring their dogs “Boo” and “Pistol” to Customs when they arrived in the country in the spring of 2015. We…more 


Five More Reasons Depp and Heard Should be Sorry

In an almost unprecedented move, actor Johnny Depp and his wife, model Amber Heard, issued a video apology to the government of Australia after failing to declare their dogs “Pistol” and “Boo” to the Australian Customs Service. The video allowed…more 


Honestly, it was just a matter of time…

Today’s Wall Street Journal’s Twitter headline caught my eye because I love a good pun. It read, “Trendy Detergent Caught in Spin Cycle.” It also caught my eye because I have been following the Honest Company’s rise to success with…more 


Missing from VW’s Response? Its Own People

Criticism continues for VW, months after their decision to cheat on vehicle emissions tests first came to light. When found out, its global leaders tried to blame a few “rogue” engineers. It didn’t fly. Now, they have a new CEO,…more 


Instamatic Response

Years ago there was the Kodak Instamatic Camera. You snapped a picture and, in a few seconds, out popped a picture. (Remember? You had to immediately coat it with a chapstick-like goo.) It’s the predecessor to the ubiquitous Instagram and…more 


Just Rogue Engineers? Reminder of the Webster Way

Volkswagen of America Inc. has decided to hang its future on the word “rogue.” It’s a bad choice. They should fire the lawyer or PR firm advising it. Rogue is Volkswagen’s explanation—and excuse—for the global debacle over the discovery that…more 


Rapid Response:  Insights from Texas Health Resources

You can always learn something new. During a recent Dallas PRSA luncheon, four communication leaders from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital shared valuable crisis response insights from handling the Ebola crisis in Dallas. THR’s communication leaders were on the front lines…more 


To Destroy or Not to Destroy?

OK, Hamlet didn’t say that, but the Mayor of Baltimore was caught on camera saying, “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” The next day, she insisted she hadn’t said it: “I never…more 


Are You Prepared?

Impersonating reporters on panels has become one of my favorite past times. After the annual American Bankers Association meeting, where I played a reporter on a panel examining how to handle a computer hack/cyber-attack, the ABA invited me to recreate…more 


We are Speechless

When is it appropriate to go off script? Crisis communication has become a well-developed specialty. It brings with it well-developed scripts for what to say under various reputation-threatening circumstances, particularly accidents or tragedies where a company has to say something…more 


Why Brian Williams Should Keep His Job

Brian Williams has allowed a good story to engulf the truth. I’ve got personal experience with this myself. As President Reagan’s Director of Media Relations, I tell stories about him and my time in the White House to illustrate my…more 


Leadership in Action

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on Crisis Communications for Leadership Dallas Government, Media and Politics Day at the George W. Bush Institute. The program was originally scheduled for 30 minutes but expanded to an…more 


Watch That Translation

What happens when a word isn’t exactly lost in translation but doesn’t quite make it through the language barrier; sort of like when my daughter’s horse would take a jump – but knock down a few poles. I was coaching…more 


Statistics and Perspective

We say that statistics are an important driver of memory. That is, they’re highly memorable. The question is – what do they mean? We’ve all heard the famous “lies, damn lies and statistics” quote, and some have heard Mark Twain’s…more 


How Banks Can Avoid a PR Nightmare

Texas Banking recently published the article, “Crisis Communication: How Banks Can Avoid a PR Nightmare” extensively quoting and pulling from Merrie’s more than two decades of experiences working with banks and the banking industry. The article is an interesting read…more 


The Risk of a Word: Ebola

In the Twitterverse, you must expect that words will be repeated out of context. Twitter blew up with the phrase “not impossible” yesterday. Headlines followed suit. The phrase originated from the CDC Director, Dr. Frieden, who was apparently describing the…more 


The Case for Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proved why he should continue as football’s commissioner in his press conference today. After a steady drumbeat of calls for his resignation from publicity-worthy voices such as lawyer Gloria Allred, the predictable question was, “Have you…more 


Back to School and Anecdotes Still Win

The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) just started the new school year. Out of the district’s 157,000 students, some 30,000 were transported to school in buses run by Dallas County, which serves 11 school districts within the county and over…more 


Cultures Ripe for Crisis: Years Later, Penn State Lessons Still Worth a Look

As the Penn State tragedy unfolded in 2011, Merrie wrote a commentary outlining what companies and institutions could learn from the situation. As the new school year begins, it is worthwhile to revisit the lessons and urge our clients—especially those…more 


Don’t Fall Victim to Word Crimes

I have had the privilege—and yes, you read that correctly—privilege of seeing “Weird Al” Yankovic perform live on stage. He put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. His attention to detail and timing, fantastic costuming choices and…more 


Diaz, Drugs and Dealing with Unexpected Questions

People really do identify with celebrities. I got a call from a reader of the BIMBO memo, who asked if I had seen the news about Cameron Diaz. No, I hadn’t. My caller felt terrible for Diaz who was doing…more 


The Expanding Portfolio of the CFO – Where Does Crisis Communication Fit In?

“Ugly scenarios are coming.” Those were the words of the Dallas CFO Executive Summit keynote speaker, Dale Buckner, CEO of Global Guardian. The former Special Forces veteran was talking about global power and political struggles as he paced the stage,…more 


Mary Barra, the Woman in the Hot Seat

Mary Barra, GM’s new CEO, and the first woman to head a major car company, is scheduled to testify before Congress this week. The topic is ostensibly about why GM did not act faster to address an issue of potentially…more 


Early Lessons From Penn State

As the summer 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon debacle unfolded, the lessons to be learned were comparatively easy to identify and apply. Run crisis simulations. Set expectations that facts and numbers will change. Make sure your spokespersons can identify with key…more 


Time to Take Risks?: More Lessons from the BP Oil Spill

Given the scope of the crisis, we’re re-examining the lessons I first drafted, “Early Lessons From BP’s Oil Spill,” compiled at the request of the Montreal chapter of IABC*.  We are also adding two new areas, one of which should…more 


Early Lessons From BP’s Oil Spill

At Spaeth Communications, Inc. we have watched the ongoing crisis in the Gulf and more specifically, BP’s response to the crisis, with great interest. Founder and CEO, Merrie Spaeth shares some of the initial lessons learned from the BP oil…more 

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