Posts

NFL Crisis Management and Crisis Communications Double Standard

Why Suspend Goodell? Watch

Why Suspend Goodell? Watch

By Gerard Braud

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell missed a crisis management and crisis communications opportunity to end the Ray Rice crisis. Sunday should have been the day Roger Goodell announced to the world that he would be suspending himself for one year. It would have displayed leadership in a crisis. It would have been communications that managed and ended the crisis.

What? Why? Is this the best expert advice that crisis managers and crisis communicators counselors could make?

Consider this — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for one year because even though he didn’t know that his defensive coach was running a bounty program for defensive players. Payton received a one-year suspension because Goodell said that as the head coach, it happened on Payton’s watch. Payton, as the top leader, was held responsible by Goodell

So, many call for Goodell to be fired and Goodell goes into classic executive denial, diversion and potential cover-up about what he knew. The best way for him to end the current crisis would be to suspend himself on the grounds that the Rice incident happened on his watch. If someone within the NFL had video of the punch in the elevator and Goodell didn’t see it, then by default, Goodell is as guilty as Payton.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

If we learn Goodell did know about the video, or saw the video, and/or was told by Ray Rice about the punch, yet faile
d to sere Rice his harsh penalty until the world saw the punch video, then we have a classic case of leadership failure in a crisis. We have a case of an executive acting one way toward others, yet having different rules for himself. We have a case of an executive who was wishing it would all go away, but who was forced to respond differently when the world learned more.

Crisis management requires good ethics and good ethical decisions. Expert crisis management only happens with the executive’s words and actions are one in the same. Are the executive’s actions congruent with his or her words? When they are, the executive is a leader. When they are not congruent, the executive fails to be a leader.

The more I watch this crisis the more I expect it to get worse. When a crisis is allowed to smolder this long it results only in more damage to reputation and revenue. Experts will tell you that the faster you end the crisis, the faster revenue and reputation are restored.

Leadership in a crisis happens when hard decisions are made quickly. A self-suspension is a great compromise shy of Goodell being fired. If Goodell fails to take a bold step, then his job is one the line, as it should be, for failing at crisis management and crisis communications

Postpone Your Crisis: Crisis Communication Wisdom with a Twist

By Gerard Braud Consider this: scheduling your crisis may be the wave of the future. Rather than being ambushed and surprised by a sudden crisis, which forces you into crisis communication, considerK2 copyBy Gerard Braud

Consider this: scheduling your crisis may be the wave of the future. Rather than being ambushed and surprised by a sudden crisis, which forces you into crisis communication, consider the model used by many of your leaders who ignore my plea to plan for the worst.

Here is how it works. Many public relations people have e-mailed me to say that they cannot conduct media training or crisis communication training with their executives because the executives do not have time. Often these public relations people are asking for only a single day for media training. Sometimes they are asking for two days to write a crisis communications plan. Regardless of which communication training you ask for, there are always too many other projects more important than preparing to effectively communicate in a crisis. Hence, if an executive does not have time to schedule the training for the skills that would be mandatory in order to protect the profits and reputation of their company during a crisis, it only makes sense to declare that no crises should take place unless it is scheduled.

So next time you want to schedule media training or crisis communication training and you are told there is no time on the schedule because we have too many higher priority projects, just ask your executives when they would like to schedule their crisis?

Sure, it has been said that, “If you fail to plan, than plan to fail.” But under this new crisis communication model, we could simply say, “Plan to fail.”

If you’ve ever been told there is no time on the schedule for communication training, please share this article with the person who told you that, then send their reaction to me.

Lesson 6: Who Should Participate in Your Crisis Communications Drill?

By Gerard Braud

Trainwreck CEOVarious teams within your organization can organize crisis drills. If no one else within your company, government agency or non-profit is organizing an annual crisis drill, then individuals within the communications department can take the lead to organize a drill.

Ideally, to get a well rounded drill you want to test your public relations team and their ability to craft and disseminate effective communications in a timely manner. Additionally, Emergency Managers and Incident Commanders may be called upon to participate in any type of drill designed to test emergency response to a rapidly evolving crisis such as a workplace shooting or fire. If the crisis drill scenario involves the disruption of production or disruption to the supply chain or any upset at a facility, the risk management team should also be part of the planning and execution of the crisis drill.

Together, these three teams must work to each perform their assigned task in a prescribed amount of time.  They must work to support one another with shared information and shared decision-making, all under the supervision of the Crisis Management Team.

A drill is designed to replicate an actual event. Held on a clear sunny day, a crisis drill prepares you and your organization for your darkest day. If you discover on a sunny day that members of the various teams are not functioning well together, you have time to correct the bad behavior or bad decision making before a real crisis happens.

9thWard-KatrinaVersary-Media_0406There are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes it is possible to test just the crisis communications team and the leadership team during a drill that simulates a smoldering crisis, rather than a sudden crisis. For example, instead of simulating a workplace shooting, build a scenario centered around a smoldering issue like executive behavior or discrimination. Such a drill will test the ethical decision making of your leaders. It will test their commitment to communicate pro-actively about such an event, and it will test the communications team for their ability to word-smith a perfect communiqué for what is often the most difficult of all crises.

Keep in mind that a smoldering crisis does not trigger the incident command plan or the risk management plan. This also proves once again that a crisis communications plan is always an important tool and document to have because it must guide your communications activity with other teams and also independent of other teams and their plans.

 

What Leaders & PR People Can Learn from Lance Armstrong: Denial & Crisis Communication

By Gerard Braud

Lance Armstrong’s denial of doping over the years provides a valuable crisis communications and public relations case study for analyzing denial by powerful people and how they communicate in a crisis.

This is important for two reasons:

1) Public relations people may give excellent advice and professional council, but be rebuffed by their corporate leaders.

2) Corporate leaders may be blinded by the view from their high perch and ignore the wise council of their public relations professionals.

Lance Armstrong appears to have shifted from a position of denial to a position of doing his duty and coming clean.

Denial is also a critical marker in crisis communications, especially in a smoldering crisis. Penn State is a perfect example of an entire institution where the leaders were in denial.

As a rule, the longer you remain in denial, the more you cause monetary and reputational harm to the institutions with which you are associated.

Lance Armstrong has harmed his Livestrong Charity, his sponsors and his businesses. (PR Daily, CNN)

This is true for denial at Penn State and many other organizations with allegations of child sexual abuse being swept under the rug.

PR people – When you see denial, urge the leader to come clean. If they don’t come clean and follow your advice, then it is time for you to polish your resume and find a job where you are respected for your advice and where the leaders have higher ethics

Leaders – When your public relations team tells you that the best thing to do is to come clean, please humble yourself to take their advice.

Here are a few important leadership lessons.

In every crisis I have witnessed and in every case study I have analyzed, individuals in leadership positions follow distinctive, easy to identify patterns that foreshadow their future success or failure.

• Some leaders do their duty, while others are in denial.

• Some take action, while others are arrogant.

If a leader does their duty and takes action, then their constituents (employees, stakeholders, etc.) will be responsible and remain loyal. However, when the person in the leadership position is in denial and is arrogant, their constituents blame everyone for the failings that occur, and the individual in denial and showing arrogance also blames everyone for his or her failings. (In the case of Lance Armstrong, he has spent years blaming his accusers.)

Remember this:

Duty vs. Denial

Action vs. Arrogance

Being Responsible vs. Blame

 

The best way to exhibit leadership in a crisis is to plan ahead on a clear sunny day, starting with a three-plan approach including a crisis communications plan, an incident command plan and business continuity plan.  Armstrong makes a perfect example for this three-plan approach because he is a leader and CEO who is continuously in the media, he is a brand, and he runs a business.  Most organizations and leaders are up to date on their incident command and business continuity plans, but most fail to plan for speaking to the media, employees, and other key audiences.

My crisis communications plans usually have 100 or more pre-written and pre-approved templates, each containing the words a leader would

use to communicate when “it” hits the fan, especially during the early hours of a crisis when emotions and anxiety are high.

As new issues arise, a document must be created for these new issues. This is especially true of smoldering issues, such as allegations harmful to the brand. Having the proper statement depends upon the leader telling the truth and not being in denial.

The best time to write such templates is on a clear sunny day and the worst time to write and formulate your words is in the throes of a crisis.

Managing a business and making money are too often the characteristics executives consider the mark of a good leader.

In my world, a leader is someone who uses effective communications in critical times to get their audience and themselves through what may be our darkest hours, so we can emerge into a bright new day.

Feel free to download this PDF and share it with your fellow leaders and PR teams.

Leadership and Crisis Communications – Sins of 2009 & How to Redeem Yourself in 2010

This is our 5th and final day of looking back at the sins of 2009 and ways to redeem ourselves for 2010.

Today we’ll look at what leaders don’t know.

In 2009 I launched a new keynote called, Leadership When “It” Hits the Fan. It has placed me on the stage in front of a growing list of associations and audiences of CEOs, VPs and managers.

And as much as I bashed Social Media yesterday for being a shiny new object, the fact is, that shiny new object can have serious negative consequences for a company, especially when things go wrong.

It always disturbs me during my keynote, as I enter a dialogue with the leaders, to learn exactly what they know, what they don’t know, and what they don’t know they don’t know.

During a crisis I live by a cardinal rule to communicate quickly with the media, your employees and other key stakeholders. My goal is to make sure a company issues a public statement within the first hour that a crisis has gone public.

Leaders, meanwhile, often fall into decision paralysis. As a result, they make no decision because they fear they will make the wrong decision. They wait to have all the facts before they say anything at all.

The biggest thing leaders don’t know, going into 2010, is how fast the world of Social Media moves. Leaders are oblivious to the fact that while they are in their crisis command center, deciding if they should issue a statement, their employees, customers and the public are posting comments, pictures and videos to the web at lightening fast speed.

During my keynote, I ask the leaders how many of them have used the most popular forms of social media.

• When asked how many use LinkedIn.com, 10% – 20% usually say yes. Read more