Red Cross under attack

July 21, 2008

This July 17 New York Times article is a blistering attack on the reputation of one of the world’s most respected and revered non-profit organizations–the Red Cross. Having met some of the key communication leaders of this organization, I was eager to observe them effectively responding to the very serious allegations in this article.

There were very few responses contained within the article. This is surprising since the problems with the blood supply are not new with FDA criticism dating back to 1993 according to the article. Almost no one from the organization was quoted. Was this because they were unavailable, not asked, or were their responses simply not included. The overall message was covered it seems–we know there are problems and we are working on solutions, suggests that there was more dialog than one would guess reading from the article. And the big key message was not delivered by a key spokesperson, but buried in the middle of the article as a simple statement–the Red Cross blood supply is among the safest in the world.

Concerned that they may not be aggressively responding to this very serious challenge, I checked their organization website. No reference. Lots of good stories about how the Red Cross is responding to disasters, but nothing about the damning accusations of this article and from the FDA. I’m disappointed. The Red Cross is one of the truly great American institutions with a proud and honored history and a critical role to play in our future. Its reputation needs protection. Looks to me like they need to understand that reputation attacks of this seriousness constitute a disaster–and respond accordingly.


One Response to “Red Cross under attack”

  1. I agree, Gerald. Unfortunately, the Red Cross is also grossly underestimating the power of the blogosphere to echo negative coverage rapidly, virally. As you’ll find at locations such as:

    They are a fine organization — in many ways, like the Marines, they are “first in, last out” of a crisis area. But they are failing to implement “Reputation Management 101” tactics.

    Jonathan Bernstein
    Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

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