crisis management in the spotlight: FEEDING FRENZY


Trial lawyers, the media, politicians, and corporate adversaries: Inside the Ford-Firestone crisis

The Ford-Firestone tire crisis was the biggest business story of 2000-2001. Deadly and mysterious rollover accidents of Ford Explorers with failing Firestone tires took a toll of more than 270 lives in the U.S. and at least 100 more in Venezuela and other hot-climate countries. 

In compelling narrative, Feeding Frenzy provides a richer case study than can be found in other books on crisis communications. The reader climbs into the front seat for an eventful ride with the Ford PR team, as the automaker tries to understand what's causing the maddening accidents. Firestone's recall of millions of tires does nothing to abate unprecedented scrutiny from international media, safety advocates and an angry U.S. Congress. All the while, trial lawyers are leaking a new inflammatory document virtually every day to journalists competing with one another to break the next big story in this epic crisis.  

About the Author:

Jon Harmon is a strategic communications consultant with experience in all facets of reputation management. He has twice served as a chief communications officer of a multi-national corporation. Over a 23-year career at Ford Motor Company, Harmon served in numerous roles requiring adroit media relations. He was Ford's chief spokesman during national labor negotiations with the UAW, and for many of Ford's high-profile legal cases and safety issues. As head of public relations for Ford Truck, Harmon was thrust into  the Ford Explorer throughout the epic Ford-Firestone tire crisis.  

What top corporate leaders and thought leaders say about FEEDING FRENZY:

Harold Burson* - Founding chairman, Burson-Marsteller                      

“Jon Harmon’s Feeding Frenzy is must reading both for CEOs and public relations professionals.  His insider account of a real-life business disaster involving two iconic brand names, Ford and Firestone, has all the suspense of a fictional “thriller.” From his perch as a senior Ford communicator, he provides rare perspective on a conflict that engaged lawyers and communicators fighting for mega-stakes – dollars and, even more important, reputation.” 

    *named “the 20th Century’s most influential PR figure” by PR Week

Dr. David E. Cole - Chairman, Center for Automotive Research, Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Feeding Frenzy is a view from the inside of one the most intriguing events in the history of modern industry, the highly publicized drama of the Ford-Firestone conflict. Jon Harmon, a key player in the drama, gives us a clear view from the team that lived with the enormous challenge for months on end. His “lessons learned” are highly insightful and valuable for any organization dealing with serious legal conflict. The detail, quality of writing, complexity of the issues and the interesting cast of characters make this a very engaging and educational read.” 

Jonathan Bernstein - President & CEO, Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc; publisher: Crisis Manager

“The Ford-Firestone dispute marked the start of 21st century crisis communications, an environment where the court of public opinion is often more important than a court of law. Jon Harmon’s “ground zero” examination of these events at Ford provides invaluable insights and lessons to crisis managers everywhere. ” 

E. Bruce Harrison - author: Corporate Greening 2.0  

“Crisis communications expert Jon Harmon cracks open a famous case of a company under fire and comes away with fresh guidance for the corporate executive who wants to avoid costly mistakes and gain the advantage when things go wrong and critics are on the attack. A must-read for C-suiters.” 

 Gerald Baron - author: Now Is Too Late: Survival in an Era of Instant News

Feeding Frenzy has the compelling narrative drive of a novel. The drama comes alive with details of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and intriguing personalities. It delivers important crisis management lessons that executives need: instant news, the role of the Internet, the melodramatic approach to story telling used by today’s ratings-desperate media – and the role trial attorneys and opportunistic politicians play now that reputations and trust can be lost in a heartbeat.”