When I used to teach public relations classes on things like Reputation Management or Crisis Communications, I taught the old PR maxim about “depositing in the bank of goodwill” out there. Simply put, the better you or your organization are at honourable citizenship on a day-to-day basis, the more public goodwill you’ll build up in this account, and the more others will be wiling to trust you.
And vice versa: the more slimy your ongoing behaviour, the less you can realistically expect anybody to trust you. Yes, even when you are telling the truth.
The good news is that, when your balance in the bank of goodwill is healthy, your chances of that trust remaining stable even if you do something bad are improved. So if you should need to make a “withdrawal” one day when a crisis hits, you’ll have the social capital of public trust nicely tucked away in that bank.
It’s also why Phillip Ball – the London-based science journalist, former editor of Nature, and the author of Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything – is taking aim at Big Pharma, and particularly at British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Continue reading →
As I wrote recently here at Ethical Nag World Headquarters, I must admit to a certain frisson of perverse fascination whenever I encounter glaring examples of inept issues management playing out in the media. Nothing gets us public relations folks higher on fizzy adrenaline than second-guessing what could have/should have been done to better handle a high-profile and entirely preventable public relations mess. As a three-decades+ veteran of the trenches in corporate, government and not-for-profit PR, and as someone who has taught classes in Reputation Management and Crisis Communications, I’ve been following a few of my recent perverse favourites: Continue reading →
If the balance left on your Starbucks card is running low, and you’re 10 cents short of what you need to pay for your coffee, all you have to do is use cash to top up the difference between your current card balance and what you owe for that decaf-low-fat-extra-hot-no-foam-latté. Easy peasy. But if you’re a ferry passenger on Canada’s west coast, and you’re trying to get back to your island home, and the balance on your travel card is 10 cents short of the required fare, that’s just not how it works. Continue reading →
I’d like to wish you an uneventful retirement, even though you and I both know, let’s face it, that you’re swiftly approaching your own Best Before date. Soon, you’ll be shuffling off to go meet Jesus in person, likely a comforting prospect for a frail almost-86-year old cleric.
Meanwhile, you may wonder why you haven’t heard from me sooner, way back when you first donned your white zuchetto skullcap. Continue reading →
Earth to the Catholic Church: if you won’t go after your priests, the law will go after you.
That’s the lesson that Bishop Robert W. Finn learned recently. The leader of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was convicted in court for not telling police that one of his priests, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, had taken hundreds of lewd images of the genitalia of little girls – some as young as 2 years of age.
Ratigan, age 46, has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. If convicted, he could face a minimum 15 years in prison.
Finn’s historic conviction is the first time that a Catholic bishop in the United States had been held accountable in criminal court in the nearly three decades since the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals first came to light. Continue reading →
As a veteran of the public relations field since the 1980s (with a niche interest in crisis communications and reputation management in corporate, government and non-profit sectors), I’ve always been intrigued by really good examples of really bad PR practice in action.
The Penn State scandal has been one in which the optics, as we say in PR, were truly dreadful. So, like slowing down for a train wreck, let’s revisit this case – but from a unique perspective. Continue reading →