I am always baffled when most individual, who are faced with a crisis or scandal, choose to hide or ignore the embarrassing moment. Attempting to avoid scrutiny during a crisis is difficult. As a public relations consultant, I’ve had to face many of my journalism friends as they seek to find the truth regarding an unfortunate situation one of my clients may or may not have been involved in. When these tense, emotional and career changing events occur, my advice is simple. First, confront the issue immediately. Second, ask for forgiveness and say you are sincerely sorry. Third, be humble and show contrition and fourth, go away and do not speak on the issue again for a while.
Attorneys usually are the leaders in a crisis communications plan. They, most times, advised their clients not to speak to the media, because the remarks uttered can be used against the individuals in a court of law. Public Relations practitioners on the other hand desire to get the story out to the press. The dilemma is if the accused individual does not address the crisis, it can be surmised that the issue is true. So, a balance should be sought which is centered on speed, forgiveness, truthfulness and humility.
Last week I wrote about the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling‘s atrocious remarks, which landed him in BIG trouble. Mr. Sterling is a text-book case of how “NOT” to navigate the media. He waited about one month after his taped diatribe to have an interview with CNN journalist Anderson Cooper. His media outreach was a mistake; too much time had passed since his snafu. Then, he said he was sorry, but no one believed him. Moreover, he continued to criticize Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the individual he was grumbling about while speaking with his girlfriend during his prior tirade. Blaming the person who you are supposed to be apologizing to is a sure way to dig a deeper hole for oneself.
Whoever is advising Mr. Sterling must stop him from speaking publicly. He is ruining whatever credibility he has left.