CommCore Blog and News

The ‘Front Page Test’ on Email Risks – And How it is Different for Business Leaders Versus Politicians

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recent article in the Washington Post pointed out what is known in the communications consulting world as “The New York Times Rule” or “The Front-Pagjulyobservere Test,” which states that anything you write in email can turn up in a major national newspaper and become a liability to your reputation. We’re not playing politics here, just commenting on what businesses, non-profits and associations can take away from Donald Trump Jr’s emails suggesting collusion with Russians on damaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Here are few simple rules:

  • Do not put anything in your emails that you wouldn’t want to see in the national press.
  • Business, nonprofit and association leaders are held to a higher standard than politicians when they misstep or miscommunicate.
  • Rhetoric is almost never sufficient to repair reputational damage – it might work for politicians, but CEOs and their teams need to also take action.
  • Make no promises on those actions that you cannot fulfill – and fulfill quickly.
  • Let others – employees, shareholders, partners, advocates – speak about the good work you or your CEO is doing to get back in good graces – not the organization itself.
One more rule:  Anytime you are about to send out a critical, controversial or aggressive email – pause, count to 10, think about the NY Times rule and then only send it if:
  • You can stand the heat from public revelation
  • It’s truthful
  • There are no better ways to express the ideas
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