Monday, November 18, 2013

Crisis Communication Lessons for Rob Ford

We can’t get away from it; Rob Ford is an international sensation, one of extraordinary wit and shameful acts of dishonor, not only to his city but to his family as well. Since the beginning of the scandal, the public has watched in awe of the beloved Mayor, just to see what he will do next. While he has denied allegations that he’s smoked crack, it was only a matter of time that the Mayor would admit that these allegations were actually true.
He’s been ridiculed, shamed, and has been the topic of many jokes, including skits on Saturday Night Live. There is a lesson to be learned here, in the event of a crisis or a PR disaster, how do you react to the onslaught of media that only want to expose you.
Keep your composure

Apology after apology, Ford has continuously verbally purged a new statement that has been used against him. Rightfully so, the man is anything but tactful. While I don’t shame public figures for being transparent however, I don’t think the world wanted to know what he ate at home. You may have also noticed that Mr. Ford is on the defensive, more often than not, during his media scrums and interviews.
When an event such as Ford’s controversy emerges, it is only a matter of time before the media will use it against you. During this time you must remain calm, composed, and be willing to address any questions or concerns from the public in a professional and tactful manner. It is important to remain composed and articulate when delivering a speech, avoid being offensive or defensive; they are signs of guilt and unwillingness to accept responsibility for your actions.
Advice to Ford - do NOT blame anyone for YOUR mistakes. Your mistakes happened because you made them – nothing more, nothing less. 

Apologize and accept responsibility

Along with keeping your composure, a heartfelt apology is in order. Furthermore, you must also be willing to accept responsibility for your actions – NO EXCUSES! It doesn’t matter why Rob Ford smoked crack, drank until he was in a drunken stupor, or allegedly sexually assaulted a peer – all while he was in office – the fact is that he did them. It was wrong. Point and case.
You should have said this Ford: Yes, I did all those things. I accept full responsibility for my wrongdoings; I let my colleagues down, I let the citizens of Toronto down, but most of all I let my family down.

It is important to note that not only does a controversy let people down, but it breaks the trust of even your most loyal supporters.
What’s next?

Following the apology, you must be willing to discuss your action plan. What are you going to do to correct your wrongful actions? Shamefully, Rob Ford was not so eager to communicate his plan to regain everyone’s trust; instead, he egotistically continues to mention that the people are on his side. His delusional way of thinking is what got him into this mess in the first place, Ford may be thinking that stepping down means admission of guilt or loss of pride – he’s already guilty, and he continues to spark outrage in the community, pride is no longer a factor.
He admitted to receiving professional help, but refuses to step down while he seeks this type of help. It has us wondering, is he lying again? He lied when the scandal started, the man cannot be trusted. After remaining composed, addressing questions or comments, and taking responsibility – the only thing left to do is to reveal your action plan.

You should of said this Ford: I will be stepping down from my role as Mayor for the foreseeable future while I seek professional assistance to better myself as a leader, as a husband, and as a father.
I cannot imagine how many PR professionals he has pissed off and forced to resign throughout this debacle. I hope, for the sake of PR, that he was given this advice, time and time again. THIS is how Mayor Ford would have been able to get the media off his back, instead of continuously digging his own grave, or sticking his fat foot in his mouth.

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