This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Damage Control

When I was working on Base I attended a seminar on Risk Management which was essentially a Communications 101 class.  Our instructor discussed how to handle sticky conversations where you were the conveyor of bad news or you were trying to manage a bad situation.  He even had a formula for such circumstances that went - Empathy, Clarification, Turn the Corner.

He explained the process as follows.  First, express empathy as in "I feel your pain."  Then, try to give your side of the story.  Finally, turn the corner by saying it will never happen again. 

Thus, I had to smile when I saw the following and immediately recognized the formula in action.  .
I think that the "re-accommodate" phrase was the flash point for this overall comment because everyone hearing or reading the CEO's statement recognized it as genuine bullshit.  (The CEO has since issued two more statements and thus it continues to be a big story.  As I have noted in the past, I can always tell when a story has reached critical mass because just about everyone coming into Buzzy's Country Store will have a comment on it.)

The other three part approach to damage control came from something I once read about one of Bill Clinton's advisors who maintained "Three day news cycle."  The advisor stated that most scandals or bad stories would run 3 days if you handled them correctly.  The goal was to get the story off the front page as quickly as possible and move on.  By trying to downplay or mislead about the story (think Catholic Church and the priest pedophile scandal)  you allow it to become an even bigger matter.  P.S. Clinton ignored the advisor's advice by issuing the "I did not have sex" line and we all know where the story went from there. 

The advisor's approach for dealing with a brewing scandal or crisis was to acknowledge that it happened by putting everything out there and honestly answering all questions about it.  By Day Three the media will have moved onto something else and if the matter ever comes up again you simply say "I've already addressed that."   Watch how this United story will continue to play out for the next couple of days and then go away.

George Clooney's Up in the Air movie did a good job showing how the main character dealt with adverse conversations.  Following video gives you an idea of how Clooney's character managed it versus how his younger partner did not:

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