The principles of crisis management I was taught (some years ago) were establish the facts, have a paper trail and never lie. Honesty seems to be the name of the game when it comes to the lessons comms professionals can learn from the small and large screens and even the radio.
The Fabulous Failure of Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix demonstrates the real-life impact of using influencers to sell lies to rich people (unpaid staff, suppliers losing a lifetime of savings). Any comms person who has survived the dotcom boom and talked to a few flighty fintechs can probably relate to how hard people were prepared to work for the mercurial founder of the festival before he got found out. He talked a good game and no one looked at the detail – demonstrating the importance of agencies also doing due diligence on those they represent in order to protect their own reputations.
The ‘Cheney reaction’ caused by the Vice movie also shows how addictive power can be for individuals (even the quiet ones) and their families. The dangers of excessive (informed) delegation and lack of email documentation for leaders of complex organisations seeking to protect their reputation on the global stage was also loud and clear.
Meanwhile, John Humphrys’ retirement from the Today Programme later this year ends this trilogy. Over the past 32 years, many a public figure has faced terrifying interviews from the veteran broadcaster who champions listeners ‘in pursuit of truth’. Media training sessions have seen delegates prepped to face the ultimate grilling – with control, bridge, answer the name of the game with Mr H cited as the ‘king of broadcast’ in many a studio.
So in an environment of ‘fake news’ – it is up to us to be honest.
Written by Niki Wheeler, director of comms agency Launch
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