What TV pundits get wrong about crisis

If you've got non-billable time today, look at Charlie Brooker's "How to report the news."

If you've got non-billable time today, look at Charlie Brooker's “How to report the news." You've seen these kind of satirical videos before. They take a pretty sour look at how local TV news stories are packaged with a numbing sameness, rolled off the line like chicken patties.

While I don't have empirical evidence, my instinct tells me that a news year dominated by oil spills, mine disasters, car recalls, economic failures, and CEO scandals has provided the largest demand in broadcast history for experts and pundits to second-guess and Monday-morning-quarterback what these companies should have done.

If Charlie Brooker is in the market for a sequel, let me suggest something like “Experts stress cardinal rules of crisis management: Emulate Tylenol, avoid mistakes of BP (or company in the news).”

Naturally, after the establishment shots of oiled birds, bar graphs of skyrocketing profits, angry picketers, a lineup of industry executives in a hearing room (right hands raised, of course), and Gloria Allred, there's one last ingredient before this patty can roll off the line.

That has to be supplied by the expert in crisis management - the business school professor, the former head of a federal agency, the PR person. That would be an admonition that the company is not handling itself according to the metaphysics of crisis, the well-established playbook.

In any crisis, this expert will say you should always: Put the CEO out front. Keep the lawyers from running communications. Help the media do its job. Protect the brand. And, above all – get all the bad news out at once.

In every case, this expert would fit right in to the story package. And in every case, he or she will miss the point. I'll tell you why in my next blog.

Larry Kamer is public affairs practice leader and MD at The Glover Park Group.

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