COMMENT: The Big Pitch - How would you advise your client's company to apologize when it's in trouble?

Anne Klein, founder

Anne Klein, founder

Anne Klein, founder

Anne Klein & Associates, Marlton, NJ

Whether or not your CEO is articulate, the CEO needs to get up for five minutes and speak - at least make a prepared statement to express regret.

Explain what the process is that you will undertake to determine the cause of the problem. Reassure the key audiences that when you learn what happened, you will fix it and it won't happen again. You need to work from the inside out. Tell employees first then, within hours, tell everybody else about the apology and your plan to rectify the problem. A faceless CEO is never a successful one. If they are articulate they should do the rounds and appear on the news shows. The key is that you have to admit that something went wrong as soon as possible, even if you don't have the answers. Keep the channels of communications open; keep the information coming.



Gary Grates

GCI Boxenbaum Grates, New York, NY

From Bridgestone/Firestone/Ford, USAir, United Airlines, Mitsubishi and others, CEOs are on the proverbial bended knee. Is this the best course?

Not always. Bottom line: consumers want results. They want to know that someone is in charge and dealing with their problem. If you are going to apologize, you better back it up. First, CEOs must address their workforce, arm them with knowledge about the situation and instill confidence in the ability of their leaders. Then it's time to address the public. The public must see that he/she has an actual stake in the outcome by projecting genuine concern and confidence. Just state the facts, relay results of an investigation, determine the cause, outline what the company has learned and delineate the solution. Set up a structure where consumers may voice concerns. Solving the problem is only half the battle; the other half is regaining trust





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