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4 Media Training Tips from Marco Rubio’s Interview with Chris Wallace

Marco rubio interviewBy Gerard Braud

I’m irritated by how Chris Wallace conducted his interview with Marco Rubio on Fox News Sunday. The media interview is generating a barrage of news stories about where Rubio stands on the issue of whether the U.S. should have invaded Iraq.

For the full context of this article, watch this clip being used by Rubio’s political opponents. It is an edited three-minute exchange with Chris Wallace, which amounts to a verbal tug of war.

This type of media interview could happen to anyone from a CEO, to a corporate spokesperson, to a political candidate like Rubio. Lightweight media training can never prepare a spokesperson for this type of an interview. High profile people need intense media training at a high level, which requires the trainer to be combative at a high level.

Here are 4 tips for dealing with a tough interview:

Tip 1: Study interviews from others like you who have been asked the same question. Just last week Jeb Bush stumbled on the same question. It appears Rubio studied the Bush interviews and was for the most part prepared to answer the question.

Tip 2: Challenge the reporter’s question when you don’t understand the question. I suggested this in my Jeb Bush article, and to his credit, Rubio did this, saying to Wallace at one point, “I don’t understand the question you are asking.”

Tip 3: Shut up and listen. When a reporter gets combative, as Wallace did, you have to decide when you are going to talk and when you are going to listen. At some point you must realize that when two people are talking over each other a lot of valuable airtime is being wasted on the verbal tug of war. As the guest, sometimes you need to listen to the reporter’s question and wait for him or her to finish before refining your answer. Wallace kept asking the vague question, “Was it a mistake to go to war in Iraq?” Rubio kept arguing over the semantics of the question.

Tip 4: When you’ve practiced your answers, as it appears Rubio has done, deliver the answer perfectly without feeling compelled to insert a spontaneous thought or verbal ad lib. My review of the interview shows that Rubio has a consistent set of answers to this question. In a nutshell, he has said that he would have invaded if he had been handed flawed information and that it would have been a mistake to invade if he had known the true facts. But in an attempt to end the verbal tug of war with Wallace, Rubio adlibs, “Based on what we know now I wouldn’t have thought Manny Pacquiao was going to get beat in that fight a few weeks ago…”

Ultimately, because of Wallace’s constant interruptions, Rubio would have needed to let Wallace finish and then answer with his rehearsed answer stated clearly, with parsed words, and delivered with as few words as possible. Such an answer sometimes requires the spokesperson to include their version of the question and answer for context, such as:

If the question is. ‘Do I support the decision to invade Iraq?’ my answer comes in two parts:

Part 1 – “If I had been given the same flawed information as President, I might have made the same flawed decision to invade.”

Part 2 – “If I had been given accurate information based on what we know now, I suspect that no president would have invaded at that time for those reasons.”

In conclusion, preparation for a potentially combative interview requires a high level of preparation and perfection, which requires extra training and practice.

 

 

3 Key Human Resources Considerations & 5 Strategies for Employee Communications in a Crisis

Gerard Braud Crisis Plan VideoBy Gerard Braud –

You’ve heard HR leaders and executives say it many times, “Our employees are our number one asset.” If this is true, should those same employees also become your most important audience when a crisis strikes?

An increasing number of HR departments are taking the lead in crisis communications planning to make sure employee engagement is maintained in crisis communications plans.

Public relations teams traditionally wrote and executed a corporate crisis communication plan. In most plans, communications were targeted toward the media.

But the time has come for human resource professionals to forge a stronger partnership with each public relations team. Corporate crisis communications plans must ensure proper and equal communications to the media, employees and social media audiences.

Here are three considerations:

Consideration #1: Employees use social media apps on their personal smart phones. This means they can quickly disseminate facts or rumors about your company’s crisis.

Consideration #2: Haters love to spread rumors on social media, which if read by your employees, can cause employees to doubt whether the corporation is communicating the truth to them.

Consideration #3: With each minute that you fail to communicate to your employees and the outside world, your corporate reputation and revenue are being damaged.

Years ago the media were the most important audience in a crisis communications plan.  They were the pathway to get your message to the masses, including your employees. But that has changed, beginning with the advent of e-mail, the web and Intranet sites. Each created a direct pathway for effective employee communications. HR and PR were able to share the responsibility for daily employee engagement.

These same tools should be your primary crisis communications tool.

HR and PR should want employees to get their news, especially about a crisis, from the company, rather than the mainstream media or social media.

Sadly, the norm seems to be that corporate executives make the mistake of thinking that when a crisis strikes they can gather critical executives in a room and hash out a strategy and write a statement. This doesn’t work and it is a recipe for disaster. When time is of the essence there is no time for impending disagreements, personality conflicts, and fights over commas and semantics in news releases. But that is exactly what happens when executives are arrogant enough to think they can “wing it” on the day of their crisis.

It is far wiser to spend a few dollars to prepare, than to watch large sums of money disappear because of falling stock prices and dropping sales, precipitated by a void in timely communications during a crisis.

While your company likely cannot communicate at the speed of Twitter, a reasonable goal is to issue your first statement to the media, employees and other stakeholders within one hour of any crisis going public.

What should you do if you are in HR?

1) Meet with your public relations team and make sure the company has written a crisis communications plan.

2) If there is no plan, partner with PR to write a plan that provides specific steps to communicate with the media, employees and key stakeholders.

3) Ensure that your plan is built for speed, by writing a library of pre-written news releases, constructed with a fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice format, in order to speed up your communications.

4) Establish a policy that states your employees and the media will get identical information at the same time. Never give employees information that is not provided to the media. Also, never give employees any information before giving it to the media.

Posting your official statement on your corporate website lets you provide links by e-mail to all employees and media with the click of a button. The same link can be posted to social media.

5) To perform flawlessly during your crisis you must practice when there is no crisis. Test your crisis communications plan at least once a year with a crisis communications drill.

Surprisingly, many companies do not see a need for a crisis communications plan until it is too late. Of the companies wise enough to have plans, many have failed to update their plans to emphasize the speed, urgency, and importance of communicating with employees.

If your employees are your greatest priority, you should provide them timely and honest information when a crisis strikes.

 

 

5 Crisis Communications Lessons from Dr. Oz

droz 2By Gerard Braud

Dr. Mehmet Oz is in crisis communications mode. He has been making headlines in the media as medical colleagues criticize him for advice he gives and things he says on his syndicated television program.

His hometown newspaper, the New Jersey Register, asked for my opinion on how Oz has begun to attack his critics. You can read the full article here:

When a crisis comes, you can communicate or remain silent. My advice is that if the crisis is the result of criticism and you feel the criticism is unfair, then defending yourself by attacking your critics is a strong tactic. Oz has been on the attack against his critics, sighting that they have ulterior motives.

booklesson gerard braud

If the media tell the story of your critics, you must reach out to the media to tell your story. Too many executives caught up in a crisis or controversy in the media, believe in the flawed old adage that, “You should never get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” (I address this in Lesson 7 of my book Don’t Talk to the Media Until…).

Here are 5 ways to address critics:

1) Call a news conference and point out the flaws in their statements.

2) Write letters to the editor to all publications that publish erroneous criticism from your opponents. Keep the letter to about 150 – 200 words.

3) Post a longer version of your letter to your own website.

4) Think carefully before taking your fight to social media. The haters can get ugly fast and make the problem worse.

5) Never underestimate the power of taking out ads in major publications so you can print your full letter.

Don’t let a critic hurt your brand, your reputation or your revenue.

4 Media Training & Interview Tips Courtesy of Jeb Bush & Megyn Kelly

Fox-Jeb-Bush

By Gerard Braud

Media training is not just about being an expert when it comes to answering a question. Media interview skills also require you to know how to ask questions of the reporter. The fuss about presidential candidate Jeb Bush is a case in point, based on an answer he gave to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly when asked about the Iraq War. What happened to Bush, can just as easily happen to you or an executive who serves as your spokesperson.

Here are some tips that will help you in your next interview:

Lesson 1: Listen to the question.

Lesson 2: Discern whether there is a question behind the question.

Lesson 3: Anticipate how your answer might trigger a dangerous follow up question.

Lesson 4: If you don’t truly understand the question or where the question might take you, ask the reporter to clarify. It is okay to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t fully understand your questions. Can you restate it?”

Bush’s failure to do this is costly. It can cost him in the polls as well as in financial contributions. In business, it can cause you to lose customers and sales because it damages both your reputation and your revenue.

Book quote(For those of you who rely on my book Don’t Talk to the Media Until as your executive media training guide book, this lesson relates directly to Lesson 2: The Big If on page 3, in which I ask the question, “If you could attach a dollar to every word that comes out of your mouth, would you make money or lose money?”)

Here is how the interview went down:

Kelly: “On the subject of Iraq, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”

Bush: “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind every body and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

But Kelly’s question is not about going to war based on the intelligence provided at the time, yet Bush’s answer is. Essentially Kelly’s question is, “If you were president and you were told there are no large supplies of chemical weapons in Iraq, would you still invade?”

That isn’t the question Bush was answering. Bush thought he was being asked, “If you had been presented with the same intelligence your brother was presented with as President, would you have made the same decision to go to war that he did?”

The presidential campaign season is just getting started and the media are looking for every little flaw in every sentence that is spoken by a candidate. They do the same in interviews with you or your executives who serve as a spokesperson.

Bush’s faux pas is proof that even media interview veterans have to keep their skills sharp by listening to each question carefully, clarifying the intent of the question, and parsing every word of your answer.

It is amazing how many people create negative headlines for themselves because of something they said in a media interview that wasn’t perfect.

My advice is that regardless of how powerful you are and how busy you might be, to do a solid interview you should:

1) Have a media training coach that you love to work with

2) Set time aside at least once a year to allow that trainer to grill you on camera with an honest evaluation

3) Roll play with a coach or colleague before every interview with every reporter, so that you get your head in the game moments before the real questions begin.

Never allow yourself to get complacent. Don’t think because you’ve done so many interviews that you can eliminate the training that keeps your skills sharp. One misplaced word can cause serious harm to your reputation and your revenue. Can you afford that?

#FireBrittMcHenry: The ESPN Media & Social Media Crisis

britt mchenryBy Gerard Braud

How would you or your company handle the situation if one of your employees did what ESPN reporter Britt McHenry did?

A media and social media crisis has been created for ESPN and McHenry when a video was posted that showed McHenry berating an employee of an auto towing company.

At this moment, ESPN has suspended McHenry for one week. How would you handle this situation?

C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” We could paraphrase that to say, “Character is doing the right thing, regardless of whether you are in public or private.”

McHenry was at a business, thinking she was having a private conversation with the clerk. But in a world where cameras record everything, McHenry’s encounter became public.

On the line right now is the character of ESPN and McHenry. The hashtag #FireBrittMcHenry began trending shortly after the video was posted.

Here are some of the things McHenry said on the video that was posted:

britt mchenry2“I’m in the news sweetheart and I will fu*&ing sue this place.”

“That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”

“With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”

“Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college drop out and do the same thing.”

“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me huh?”

“Oh, like yours cause they look so stunning. Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fu*King trailer honey. Lose some weight baby girl.”

I spent 15 years on television and worked very hard never to be or be perceived as a celebrity. My wife used to go crazy because people would ask, “Where do I know you from?” I’d always shake their hand and say, “I don’t know. I’m Gerard Braud. And your name is…?” Never did I identify myself with my television station.

Conversely, I also knew some really mean reporters and anchors with huge egos who thought they were better than everyone else. Many were notorious for throwing temper tantrums.

In McHenry’s case, being angry that your car got towed is understandable. But when your anger turns to personal attacks about the appearance of other people, indicating that you clearly believe you are better looking and a better person than everyone else, you’ve crossed the line and you deserve to be fired.

In television, ratings often drive decision making more than a network simply doing what is morally and ethically the right thing. That’s sad. This should be a no brainer for ESPN to fire McHenry. Sure, she gets ratings because of her looks. But there are many other talented young women with nicer personalities and smaller egos who are ready to take her place.

And here’s the kicker to the on camera rant – when McHenry says on video, “Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t.” If McHenry had a brain she would be smart enough never to say what she said or treat a person the way she did.

#FireBrittMcHenry

 

Editor’s note: Left Jab Radio interviewed media and crisis expert Gerard Braud about Britt McHenry. Listen to the interview here.

 

 

7 Media Training & Spokesperson Lessons from Rand Paul vs. Savannah Guthrie

guthrie paul interviewBy Gerard Braud

The New York Times called me Friday for a comment about Rand Paul’s hostile interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. When the Times starts calling for observations, that means the political season is in full swing. Reporter Alan Rappeport does a great job covering candidates and the things they say in his blog, First Draft. I wasn’t available when he called, but he did get some good insights from my friend and colleague Brad Phillips, who some of you know as Mr. Media Training.

You can learn a lot about your own media interview do’s and don’ts during campaigns, especially the presidential campaigns. We’ll take sometime this week to look at a few lessons.

For all of you who are spokespeople, I encourage you to first watch the NBC Today Show interview. Here are my observations about how it went:

Question one was background. It went smoothly.

Question two was about Iran negotiations. Guthrie tried to interrupt Paul 2:05 into the interview and Paul successfully interrupted to say, “Let me answer the question,” to which she did and the answer by Paul was a good one. However,

Lesson 1: To all spokespeople – the reporter has the right to interrupt you if it appears you are dodging the question. In this case, I think Paul was adding context, which many reporters don’t want to hear.

Lesson 2: Add context when you can. But if you look at the video, Guthrie appears embarrassed by the interruption. That isn’t good for Paul.

Lesson 3: Don’t embarrass a reporter on live television.

Question three was Guthrie at 3:03 into the interview asking Paul about issues that she said he changed his mind about over the years. On her third example at 3:16, Paul interrupts in a way that I believe crossed the line into being combative. Paul feels she is asking a biased question. Guthrie continues despite his talking over her. She completes the question by talking over his interruption, then he, in my opinion, comes across as being condescending as he begins to lecture her on how her question should have been phrased.

Lesson 4: Do not be condescending to a reporter. When a spokesperson reaches this point, things will always get uncomfortable and combative.

Lesson 5: As a spokesperson, you have the right to rephrase a question, but you should not think that lecturing a popular reporter on live television is a wise move.

My suggestion for any spokesperson at a time like this is to allow the reporter to finish their question, then to simply reply, “I cannot agree with the premise of your question.” The spokesperson should then state the facts as he or she believes them to be true.

Instead of the response I suggest, Paul initiates an argument that sounds much like a husband and wife who seem to be debating something that neither has heard correctly.

Lesson 6: When two people speak at the same time like this, neither can hear the other clearly.

From the perspective of control, Paul is completely controlling the interview. However, he is embarrassing Guthrie to the point that the loyal viewers who love and adore her will learn to hate Paul. For Paul, he gained control of the interview’s direction, but at what cost?

Brad Phillips told the New York Times that a spokesperson must remember, “The reporter is the conduit to the audience you want to reach out to.” This echoes the lesson I write about in Chapter 1 of Don’t Talk to the Media Until which is that in an interview, you are not talking to the media, you are talking to the media’s audience.

All of you who serve as spokespeople must walk a fine line when getting combative with a reporter, especially in a live interview on a high profile program like the Today Show.

Lesson 7: Making the media your enemy and being combative usually backfires. Making the media fall in love with you because you give great answers and sound bites always works. Just ask the young Senator from Chicago who ran for President and now sits in the White House. His quotes were always strong and that goes a long way.

The bottom line is that as a spokesperson, you have a right to provide context and to correct errors or misstatements. However, doing it right requires you to remember that, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

4 Media Relations Lessons from Rolling Stone and 5 Public Relations Ways to Deal With Bad Reporters

rolling stoneBy Gerard Braud

The Rolling Stone Magazine retraction of their University of Virginia gang rape story is filled with parallels I often warn of in my media training and crisis communications programs.

Here are 4 realities:

1) Reporters love an underdog and generally value the word of the accuser more than the word of the authority. I’ve witnessed it as a reporter and as a communications consultant representing companies and organizations that have been wrongly accused by zealots. Giving more credibility to the underdog represents both bias by the reporter and a lack of proper training on ethics and fairness.

The perception by reporters is that the accuser is honest and a victim, while the institution in question has something to hide. Sometimes that is true, but often it is not. The reporter’s job is to conduct as many interviews as possible and to allow all parties to tell their side of the story.

2) Generally in an underdog story, the media interview the underdog at first, then call the authority figure for a response, often asking you to defend your actions. That should be a big red flag. (Although the investigation by the Columbia School of Journalism seems to indicate the reporter didn’t even call the fraternity accused of the gang rape to get their side of the story.)

3) The media get sloppier each day. Deadlines and budget limitations have frustrated members of the media from editors to reporters. Their self-defeating attitude about the media industry bleeds over into the belief that they can only dedicate so much time to a single story and that they can’t be as thorough as they’d like. That mindset needs to change, but likely won’t. Budget cuts and the downfall of quality reporting is what inspired me to resign as a television reporter at WDSU-TV6 in New Orleans and to not move on to a full-time job at CNN, where budget cuts were already underway and continue today.

4) A growing number of people in the media want to classify themselves as “advocate” reporters. In other words, they believe it is their moral responsibility to report on a point of view or on behalf of a group. This frightens the daylights out of me when I hear this. It is a clear example of bias and managers should not allow it, but they do. (The world as we know it is over.) Such individuals should be bloggers, but never paid reporters.

How should you deal with these issues? I suggest you consider these 5 options:

1) If you are called for an interview in which you are expected to “defend” your position or organization, always ask the reporter who else they have talked with and what those individuals said. You have the right to know.

DSC_01142) Make a list of specific questions you would ask the accuser and then ask the reporter if he or she asked these questions. You can even suggest that the reporter delay the interview with you until those questions have been asked.

3) If it appears the reporter is asking you questions that put you on the defensive, your goal should be to make your story compelling in ways that puts the accuser on the defensive and places you on the offensive. This requires research, key message writing, and media training before the interview. This is never accomplished through spontaneity or ad libs in an unpracticed interview.

4) If you perceive bias from the reporter, call the managing editor of the media outlet to have a conversation about your concerns. Better yet, tell them you’d like to visit them in their office with the editor and reporter present. I’ve done this many times. Many times it results in the story being killed. Other times, it swings the story to our point of view.

As with number three above, this requires research, key message writing, and media training before the meeting. This is never accomplished through spontaneity or ad libs in an unpracticed meeting. Yes – practice and role-play for the meeting, including using video cameras to evaluate what was said so you can parse your words.

5) If you’ve done your best to manage the story before it is written and it turns out poorly, write a letter to the editor. Aim for 150 words and settle for 250 words. Nothing any longer will get published.

Warning: Many executives will want to “just let it die” because they have been taught to “never get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Those are outdated ways of thinking. The internet gives you as much ink as the media. Furthermore, search engine optimization requires that you post a well worded reply, i.e. letter to the editor, so it is recorded in history and on the internet, especially on the internet site of the accuser.

Remember: There is a huge reputational and monetary impact on any organization that is reported on by the media. You can’t afford not to play the game and win.

Yet to be answered:

1) Why the story of the alleged rape was fabricated by the accuser?

2) Why no one has been fired?

Reality: An interesting case study is ahead as the fraternity sues Rolling Stone.

Social Media When “It” Hits the Fan

schock2By Gerard Braud

Why are so many powerful people oblivious to the potent, negative power of social media? Every day there is a new crisis communication case study and today it is from Aaron Schock, who has resigned as Congressman from Illinois.

Schock created his own crisis with excessive selfies and posts on social media, showing him engaged in a rather lavished lifestyle of travel. This raised questions about whether taxpayers were footing the bill for his fun.

Tip 1: Establish guidelines for what should be posted and what should not be posted as an official representation of the corporation and the leadership of that organization.

schock1Tip 2: Review your current social media policy for all employees to make sure best practices are being followed. If you don’t have a social media policy for employees, make it a priority to write one.

Tip 3: In a corporate environment, require that three people concur about an image or post before it is shared on social media. Get feedback from one another to measure positive and negative reaction before anything goes online.

If you have a great social media policy that you’d like to share with your public relations colleagues please send it to me at gerard (at) braudcommunications.com

If you’d like guidance on setting up a system that works for your corporate culture just give me a call at 985-624-9976.schock3

Crisis Communication & Media Hide and Seek: The ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery Explosion

By Gerard Braud

Where is the ExxonMobil news release for the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery explosion? An explosion is a crisis, which requires expert crisis communications. The media would expect information on the corporate news release page. Media want it fast and easy to find.

But look what you find on the ExxonMobil news release page – A fluff release about a summer jobs program.

ExxonMobile-#1-No ReleaseReally ExxonMobil?

Oil may have come from the age of the dinosaurs, but public relations in 2015 shouldn’t be prehistoric in nature.

Is ExxonMobil playing hide and seek with their news release?

At the bottom of the ExxonMobil page I found three social media links. I clicked on Twitter and found a statement that I’ve written about before – the dreaded and preposterous, “Our top priority statement.” The Tweet says, “Our top priority is the safety of our employees, contractors and neighbors in Torrance.” Obviously it isn’t your top priority, otherwise you would not have had an explosion with four people sent to the hospital, right?

ExxonMobil-Twitter-TopPriority

Come on PR people: Enough with the bad clichés that you can’t defend. My top priority is to get public relations people to stop saying, “Our top priority.”

The link on Twitter sends me to this news release page, which did not appear in my initial search. Note the time stamp on the hidden news release – 10 a.m. ET on February 19, 2015. Now note the first sentence of the news release – it indicates the explosion happened at 8:50 a.m. PST on February 18, 2015. If there is an earlier release, it is hidden from me.ExxonMobil-2-release

I have to question, why does it take nearly a day for a news release to be posted? This is absurd. This is 2015 and we live in the age of Twitter. No corporation should go more than one hour before a news release is posted. And don’t blame it on your lawyers or your executives. An expert public relations leader must learn to deal with lawyers and executives before a crisis so that your crisis communications can move with haste and professionalism. Your crisis communication plan should be filled with pre-written and pre-approved news releases. Geez!

Even on Twitter on the day of the explosion there is no ExxonMobil Twitter post related to the explosion, yet citizens are posting images and details about the crisis trending on #torranceexplosion.
ExxonMobil-Twitter-Feb18

Now let us examine the news release as ExxonMobil plays hide the facts and details. Compare the ExxonMobil release that mentions an “incident,” to the headlines on Google, which uses words such as “explosion” and a host of descriptors such as “rips though refinery,” “rocked by large explosion,” etc.

 

ExxonMobil-Google

 

While ExxonMobil uses clichés such as “top priority” and “incident,” the NBC Los Angeles website describes, “Crushed cars, mangled metal, flames and a health warning.” Their lead says, “Hours after an explosion ripped through a Torrance refinery, residents for miles around continue to grapple with ash, a gas odor and concerns over poor air quality…”

Something tells me this was more than an “incident.”

 

ExxonMobil-NBC

In a crisis, it is important for official sources to provide official information. It is also important to control SEO. From a control perspective, the corporation should be controlling the flow of accurate information, rather than surrendering to the rumors and opinions for the public.

In the 2014 Fortune 500 list, ExxonMobil is listed as second. Some might wonder if their PR is second rate.

So what do you think about how ExxonMobil manages its crisis communications?

Brian Williams Suspended: Layers of a Media Crisis for NBC & Williams

Brian-DailyBy Gerard Braud

Leave it to Jon Stewart to once again be the expert voice of reason in modern media. He clearly points out in this crisis that there is the “Brian Williams Anchorman” persona, and as I pointed out previously, the “Brian Williams Storyteller” persona at public events where he appears as a celebrity speaker or guest.

At question is the brand – credibility.

At stake is reputation – damaged.

At the heart of it – two layers. A crisis for Williams the journalist and a crisis for NBC, the corporation.

I think Williams did the right thing to apologize, as mentioned in my previous blog.

NBC, in imposing a six-month suspension without pay for Brian Williams, has created a scenario in which I do think Williams can recover. In other words, I would be surprised if he ever returns to the anchor desk at NBC Nightly News ever again. I would not be surprised to see Williams announce his resignation.

Crisis management requires finesse. A crisis response too little or too late is bad. A crisis response too large makes the crisis worse and creates a series of secondary crises.

Think of crisis management the way you might think of parenting – let the punishment fit the crime. If your child leaves their bike in the driveway behind the car, a proper response is to take away their bike. Taking away every toy they own would be too extreme.

The offenses by Williams appear to have been primarily in celebrity appearances. Hence, the proper vehicle for NBC would have been to prohibit the celebrity Brian Williams from making celebrity appearances. By making such an announcement, NBC could have focused on where the sins were committed, yet opened the door for redemption by putting Williams back on the air after his self-imposed one-week suspension. This announcement should have been combined with my previous suggestion that Williams appear on the Today Show Friday with some of the soldiers who called him out. Such an appearance would have put a punctuation mark on the crisis that defines its end.

NBC, by suspending Williams for six months will remove this story from the headlines quicker. However, the harsh penalty means that if they return Williams in six months, the story will regenerate.

My opinion is that NBC News went too far.

Likely, the only way Williams could return to the anchor desk is if the veterans who called him out for his errors rallied to his side to support him, asking NBC to return him to the air very soon. My crystal ball doesn’t see that happening, although I wish it would.