By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
From pointed guns to pointed fingers, the damage left in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been gut-wrenching. The gunman, of course, is ultimately to blame for an act of pure evil. But many others involved, from the police officers first on scene to the school superintendent, are now under fire in the aftermath as parents and citizens demand that the school district bust down bureaucratic barriers, hold people accountable and build public trust.
We ask you to read the article below so that you have a better understanding of transparency and how the times have changed. Government agencies, quasi-government agencies, nonprofits and for-profit companies – including those that hold themselves out as models of integrity and accountability – will feel the pain when the public gets obfuscation and spin instead of transparency.
We have the utmost respect for the attorneys we work with, and understand their frequent risk-aversion strategy – often built around saying as little as possible – might indeed win the day in court. But since there’s a roughly 95% chance your crisis is never going to trial, we believe our strategy (in most situations) of telling the truth, telling it first and telling it all will well-serve your organization’s long-term strategic needs.
One other lesson to be learned from the Parkland, Florida, situation is to understand your corporate culture before the crisis. This school district certainly seemed to have a culture that allowed the lawyers to dictate going quiet. After all, the district hired a “crisis communications” consultant whose motto was “Stop Talking”…
You can read the Sun Sentinel story about the Parkland shooting here.