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 →
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 recovering Catholic (and educated by the nuns of Mt. Mary Immaculate Academy, a convent boarding school), I’ve been closely following the systemic child sexual abuse scandals that have disgraced this church for many years.
And as somebody who has spent over three decades in the public relations field, I’ve also been following one inept church leader after another who conspired to protect predator priests in some kind of bizarrely inexcusable attempt to safeguard the reputation of their institution. This was commonly done by simply transferring known abusers from parish to parish where they could then find fresh new victims. Recently, I read this conclusion in a famous report:
“The most saddening finding is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders for the safety and welfare of the child victims. There was no attempt to investigate, to identify victims, or to protect any other children from similar conduct.”
The trouble is, these words were not written about the Roman Catholic church. Continue reading →
Happy Anniversary to us! Me and The Nag. Actually, one and the same. Two short years ago today, I launched this baby sibling to my Heart Sisters blog.
My first post here was about how to read the extra-fine print at the bottom of scientific journal articles to see who’s paying for the positive results being reported in research studies. I’d already built up quite a head of steam over at Heart Sisters about what’s known as marketing-based medicine. I was on a roll, except the roll had almost nothing to do with my important focus of women and heart disease – our #1 killer. As a heart attack survivor who now takes a fistful of cardiac meds every day, I realized that I had no clue which of these drugs were being prescribed for me based on industry-influenced medical journal articles and tainted clinical research. And worse – neither did my doctors.
Best to separate the sibs, I decided, so I could easily divide the emerging cardiology updates there and the marketing rants over here. Continue reading →
Just for fun when we’re talking shop, my PR friends sometimes like to evaluate escalating public scandals by asking each other: “What do you think might be the best damage control strategy for this crisis?”Here’s an example: over a 15-year period, our local Catholic Bishop Remi De Roo used church funds to invest in a failing horse-breeding venture, all without bothering to ask anybody for permission. In desperation, he then tried to secretly cover his horse-breeding losses with a real estate deal that also went terribly wrong – once again using the church’s money.
For the sake of clarity, let’s call this “stealing”. De Roo’s Catholic diocese was left with a debt of over $12 million to cover his losses. But the church never did press criminal charges against him.
It seems that as far as the Catholic church is concerned, wayward priests who choose to commit crimes – from stealing $12 million to sexually abusing minors – don’t need to face the same legal consequences that you or I would face. And from a public relations viewpoint, my PR pals agree, that’s a disastrous perception. Continue reading →