H&R Block’s PR Nightmare

February 24th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Union Carbide’s Bhophal and Tylenol are classic cases of PR crisis management. And now we can add H&R Block to the list.

It was announced on the radio this morning that H&R Block screwed up its own tax returns, and owes the IRS $32 million in back taxes.

Already, according to the radio report, H&R Block has lost 250,000 clients as a result.

If you were the CEO, marketing manager, or PR firm for H&R Block, what steps would you take to manage this PR crisis?

This entry was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 8:59 am and is filed under PR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

112 responses about “H&R Block’s PR Nightmare”

  1. Mike Tinling said:

    I don’t know about the United States but here in Canada. There motto is “If we make a mistake on your tax returns we will pay”
    There only way out of this dilemma, is, to do just that.
    I would think that by the time their accountants get done with the taxes, it will more likely end up at 2 or 3 million and then their PR people will have their work cut out for them.
    As for what kind of a spin would I put on it? I will have to see.
    Mike Tinling
    Toronto, Canada

  2. Jim said:

    This is a challenge: My first idea is to switch it by stating, “At H&R Block we are so focused on doing the best tax returns possible for our clients by applying the best brains we have. We spend most of our time doing the best job we can for our customers, that we took our eye off our own ball. And this is just a temporary setback that will be fixed quickly as we continue to provide excellent tax services to our clients. Last year alone our client save over $xxx on their HR Block prepared returns and just think how much more money we can save our clients with our newly acquired appreciation for the IRS!!”

  3. Pam said:

    Other than putting a gun to my head? I guess I’d point out that, like most corporations, the executive division doesn’t know 1/10th as much about what the company does as the folks on the front line do.

    Beyond that only half-joking suggestion, I can’t offer too many ideas.

  4. Kim Stacey said:

    I truly wish I had a better idea – blaming someone else appears to be the way politicians handle it. Blame someone, and then fire them. “Clean House” of the miscreants (I know, that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?) and then proclaim to everyone that “it won’t happen again”.

    Validate the training of the current staff through test scores, or some other criteria.
    Offer significant promotional savings to new or returning clients.

    I’d love to hear what you think!

  5. Yancey said:

    One way to manage this crisis is by using this slant:

    “The tax code is so complex…changing year to year…even the professionals have a challenge keeping up with it. And we live, eat, and breath tax law.”

    Then put in place, and advertise the bejeezus out of, an iron clad, kick-butt guarantee.

  6. Perry Marshall said:

    I think some people go into certain professions to make up for a deficiency. Kind of like when a guy calls you up to do a business deal and he’s gushing about how important “Integrity” is it’s usually a sign that he’s lacking in that area. Watch out, cuz he’s probably got his hand in the cookie jar.

    Maybe people could buy H&R Block Stock instead of paying their taxes this year?

    Oh yeah, and thanks for the other articles ya sent, Bob!


  7. Irwin Greenstein said:

    I would launch an intenste testimonial-driven marketing campaign.

  8. douglas bowyer said:

    Has anyone else been re-charged for last years taxes on there debit or credit cards by h&r block. I was told it was a glich in there system by my local branch. It has been a month know and still not resolved. I am trying to find out if this is a isolated incident or if is a national issue. Thanx

  9. John Sinclair said:

    That’s a good one :-)

    “The tax code is so complex…changing year to year…even the professionals have a challenge keeping up with it. And we live, eat, and breath tax law.”

    But did you know that it is absolutely true. Even the FBI is scared of the IRS.


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  12. adams tax advice said:

    The tax code is not too complicated. All you have to do is read it slowly. All you have to do is understand the deductions. Righteous or what! That is not too complicated. They are basically simple. I know I have studies 100’s of hours of tax law and did tons of research.

  13. charles wright said:

    Lets simplifly tax, everyone and every business pay 10%,Get rid of the democrats and republicans,Vote one man or woman in for each state, and lets become the UNITED STATES of AMERICA again.Stop trying to control the world,and take care of our owen first. 9.5 tril in debt, 1mil a miniut its out of control. Take care of our world, and go GREEN.Whats wrong with being the good guys,the goverment has damaged our good names long enough.Oh yea H&R block would have to get a real job.

  14. Should I hire an accountant or do my taxes on my own? - My Investing Blog said:

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  15. Matthew Woodard said:

    I believe i would come up with a very creative campaign…something along the lines of “no one’s perfect” something to draw in the public’s attention to detail, and getting the point accross that we PAY attention to detail…

    of course we would have to do something very creative, probably divert attention from the negatives…i did some design and web work for H&R Block back in 2006.

  16. Morgan said:

    Get online and do as much damage control via the blogs as you possibly can.

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  18. linkedin said:

    I believe i would come up with a very creative campaign…something along the lines of “no one’s perfect” something to draw in the public’s attention to detail, and getting the point accross that we PAY attention to detail…

    of course we would have to do something very creative, probably divert attention from the negatives…i did some design and web work for H&R Block back in 2006.

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