Deny everything

There are different ways that you can respond to problems when they hit an organisation from acceptance through to ignoring the situation. But to be effective in dealing with the issue you first have to accept what has happened. There have been a few occasions recently where I have noticed the response was far from doing that instead opting to deny there is an issue and that anything needs to be done. Today’s reaction from the Government to the resignation of Sir Jeremy Farrar quitting from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is the latest.

In the response that has featured in all the media coverage there was no acknowledgement that Sir Jeremy had resigned or comment on his contribution to SAGE during the pandemic. If you read the three paragraphs in isolation you would struggle to see what they were talking about beyond the Plan A, B or C discussion. Why was no recognition given? It leaves people asking more questions than the statement is trying to answer.

I am reminded of a character from The Fast Show, the TV comedy show of the 1990s, when a Government minister disagrees with everything the interviewer says. Ignoring the obvious in front of him he argues that night is day and denies that grass is green. This may be funny in the comedy show but it is frustrating in real life. Managing issues, incidents and problems effectively needs honesty, transparency and empathy at its heart. There are more questions that arise from a denial of the reality of the situation.

The approach we are increasingly seeing was prevalent in the Donald Trump presidency where he would label anything he didn’t agree with as ‘fake news’. Taking this approach puts pressure on the ethics of the communicator involved. And in the situation today of Sir Jeremy Farrar it would have shown more credibility to thank him for his contribution before answering the challenges made by Sir Jeremy. If you are confident in your position then demonstrate it in how you respond to challenges. Be clear why you have a specific view or approach and do it from a position of understanding people’s concerns.

Putting the blinkers on and denying things may be a short term response but threatens to damage long term trust and confidence. Time for a new approach please.

This entry was posted in challenge, communication, crisis communication, PR, reputation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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