It has been an interesting couple of days. After photographs of Matt Hancock kissing an aide surfaced shortly followed by video of the same you can see the reputations crisis developing. The fury from the public was focused not on his private affairs but the fact he broke his own rules.
It won’t be the first or the last reputational crisis that affects a business, organisation or government. I have advised on many and have never found myself pursuing the response that the matter is ‘considered closed’. This is a response that has been used by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a few occasions.
Remember it is not for you to say when the crisis is over. The people who have been affected have a key say in the situation. If they feel it is not over then you cannot move forwards. When there is more to be done or more to be addressed then you have to deal with it.
What matters most is building trust and confidence. It needs honesty, transparency and integrity to underpin any crisis response and that is what needs to be within any communication. There is no other CEO who would be able to say ‘the matter is closed’ and get away with it. I hope no bosses look at that approach and consider it a possible response.
It is essential that you notice and accept that there is a crisis underway. People need to see you responding, finding some way to deal with it, and to reduce the impact of it. Brushing it aside will never be a viable way forward.
With the resignation of Matt Hancock we have seen the matter was far from closed for people. Anyone who has been unable to see family and friends, who has struggled to pay the bills, or who has lost loved ones during the pandemic may feel there was more to say on the matter. This has been a lesson in how not to do crisis communication.