Friday, June 14, 2013

Crisis Communications: the Toronto Experiment Take Two

I wrote a few days ago about the "difficulties" currently experienced by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the absolute idiocy in which he and his team have approached communications during that period. Despite the obvious harm to the city's reputation (and to the Fords themselves ...), this kind of lack of accountability has serious consequences for those of us who have to communicate to citizens during disasters. How do you build/maintain trust in that kind of environment

A few days later, it seems nothing has been learned. The Ford camp is doubling down on its strategy that appears doomed. Here's how I described it earlier: 

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: 
Sincere: if you acknowledge a fault, it will in time be forgotten/forgiven 
Magnanimous: because calling the press "maggots" for doing their job is not a good tactic 
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 ..

Now, let's take a look at some actions since ... actions that follow the usually death-bringing CRETIN template of crisis communications.

Confrontational: calling the press "thick skulls" does not make the questions they ask go away!

Refusing to acknowledge reality:  while his official Twitter account is mired in banalities: 

A parody account is often very funny and sarcastic ... just look at the profile line: 
(by the way: does your crisis comms plan lay out how you'd deal with brandjacks or parody accounts ? )

Evasive and reliant on some bad advice, particularly from his brother (Councilor Doug Ford) who often speaks on behalf of the Mayor ... much to the dismay of many including a city councilor recently removed from the Executive Committee, She (Jaye Robinson) feels Torontonians need to hear the truth:
She believes her firing was also related to her comments that her residents want to hear a clear explanation from Mayor Ford — not statements from his brother, Councillor Ford, speaking on the mayor’s behalf.
Team-less: His chief of staff: gone, other staffers: gone ... and now the guys who got him elected and ran his first mayoral campaign, won't do it again ... they say he needs help ... Rob Ford? Just won't listen. 

(btw: i'm not piling on with all this on someone who's got a mental health and addiction issue ... i'm illustrating the sad state of affairs at Toronto's City Hall)

Irresponsible: seems hizzoner is nvolved with some really bad people: gangsters, drug dealers ... and refuses to address the issue ... which leaves room for all sort of interpretation AND lack of denials from the police ... 

Narcissistic: surrounds himself with an entourage of sycophants and ideologues who can't discern the greater good among the single-minded (simpleton-like) focus to "end the gravy train". All this resulting in fabulous headlines: 

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