CommCore Blog and News

The “Duh” Principles of Communications: Important Lessons Still Unlearned

Three recent avoidable communications no-no’s reinforce the “duh” principle. Think and ask questions before your speak, blog or engage in public conversations. Items:

• National Public Radio SVP of Development Ron Schiller talking with members of a group he has never met before, that it turns out has been organized by a provocateur. He is caught on an undercover videotape insulting the Tea Party and claiming NPR would be better off without federal funding. NPR’s CEO resigns in the aftermath.

• An employee of Chrysler’s social media agency posts an offensive tweet with an expletive referring to the bad driving skills of Detroiters. Chrysler is in the midst of a huge ad campaign touting the re-birth of the Motor City, with Chrysler as its symbol. The agency fires the employee. Chrysler issues an apology on its corporate blog.

• Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – in the midst of a boiling political battle with unions – is tricked by a blogger for online publication The Beast into thinking he is talking on the phone with a supporter, conservative supporter David Koch. The blogger then posts the audio of the very frank and blunt conversation online.

These missteps suggest it’s time to repeat the most elemental crisis preparedness counsel:

• First and foremost, make sure everyone in your enterprise understands and applies your organization’s basic rules of public and private engagement:

• Never assume there’s such a thing as a truly private verbal or online conversation unless you are talking 1-on-1 with a close friend or associate in a trusted location.

• Check your impulses at the door when addressing controversial issues before an audience, even in a supposedly closed session.

• Remember that every Smartphone is a video camera, and everyone within earshot is a potential “citizen journalist” or blogger.

• Verify who you are meeting with or talking with on the phone before engaging in a conversation or interview. Screen all incoming inquiries from unrecognized numbers or sources by taking a message and calling back the main switchboard to verify the source of the call.

• Never publish anything on a social media platform that you wouldn’t want the whole world to know.

How strong are your organization’s internal communications protocols? Are they followed? How about your clients?