Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Crisis Management Test: The VP Fails

The media firestorm ignited by Dick Cheney's failure to address the American public following the accidental shooting of his friend, 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington, seems to be burning itself out ... but not before being covered by just about every pundit in the media universe, from John Tierney of The New York Times to Fox's Bill O'Reilly. And, needless to say, the blogosphere has swarmed all over the story. According to Technorati, here is the number of posts that contain Cheney Shooting per day for the last 30 days:
Technorati Chart

I have my own three cents to add.

In my firm's work with corporate clients, we have identified four key tried-and-tested rules for managing a crisis; and the Vice President has violated all of them:

  1. Tell the Truth. The VP never gave a rundown to the press of what happened; he never apologized or showed any remorse toward the victim or his family, although he obviously regarded him as a friend.

  2. Tell It Fast. More than a day passed before we heard any news.

  3. Tell it from the Top with Support from Others. The "top" (the VP) never confessed, and only after a day passed did we hear from one of the members of the hunting party. Worse yet, the victim apologized to the VP because of the press outcry Cheney had to weather.

  4. Tell Steps You Are Taking to Rectify the Situation So It Won't Happen Again. Quoting various consumer and state regulatory groups, the press ran precautions that should have been taken to prevent such accidents, but there was no such advice from the VP.
Although this is a political rather than a corporate crisis situation, the same credibility factor is at stake. Concealing relevant facts always taints credibility. The guy at the top — and/or the one who had the experience — is the person the public wants to hear from. Cover-ups almost always are uncovered and they raise a question about most other statements the individual makes in the future.

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Blogger Michael Morton said...

It seems that some politicians and corporations never listened to their mothers' advice - always tell the truth.

A former Congressman acted the exact way as Cheney. His name was Gary Condit. That was total crisis management disaster! The end result was highly satirical parody on the South Park and an adieu from Congress.

Will politicians ever learn?

Constituency Communication

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

Thanks. I appreciate your comments.

Monday, February 27, 2006 10:33:00 AM  

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