You've been accused of being impaired at public events, of groping, of using profane language, of flipping the bird at fellow drivers and texting behind the wheel ... quite a track record.
Then, comes a real whopper. The country's largest newspaper which you accuse of waging a war on you and your administration, has a picture on its front page stating that there's a video of you smoking crack cocaine with drug dealers.
What's your immediate reaction? to say nothing ... for seven whole days ... meanwhile, here's what happens (for a complete timeline ... see here) :
- it becomes public that people who you posed with in the drug den picture and video have been shot and/or killed.
- You fire your chief of staff and one of your cronies suddenly seems everywhere.
- Your family, and especially, your brother, who's a city council member is the subject of a profile in the country's most influential newspaper about him being a drug dealer in his younger years.
- Comes out that your family has a long history of associating with unsavory characters
- You finally break your silence and deny the existence of such a video and then reports surface based on info from your own staff that you know where the video might be
- You then retreat into a series of lame public announcements where you refuse to answer any question about the ongoing controversy.
- Staffer after staffer leave your employment .... the sense is the ship is going down and the crew is getting out while they can ... meanwhile the captain is still blind to the looming iceberg.
- You remain totally oblivious to the greater picture and greater good of the city and people you're supposed to represent ... your council colleagues implore you to get help and step aside but you ignore them ... in fact, you state you'll run for reelection !
It should be clear by now to most readers of this blog that the behaviour above is pretty much the antithesis of a good crisis communications strategy. Here's how our subject went wrong ... by being:
Maladroit: no matter what he does, he appears to lack any poise
Obfuscating: he tries to divert attention, deflects questions, appears untruthful
Reactive: his actions keep putting him on the defensive
Obnoxious: everything he's doing is alienating more and more people
Non-disclosing: he acknowledges nothing, keeps saying it's "business as usual" ...
What our subject ought to be instead:
Assertive: chose a path of action, drive the agenda, don't appear to hide
Responsive: chosing silence is not a good option when the whole world watches on
Tuned in: don't ignore the chaos around you, show you still have control ..
What do you think the mayor should do ?