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20 years

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Passing the Red Faced, Smell Test

If you have never heard the term before, this means you are in a crisis double whammy. Most PR and Crisis experts recommend that if an action, project or activity will cause embarrassment, then think twice before going ahead. Ditto, if the aroma alone would cause some repercussions.

When it both stinks and produces a red face, then the simple advice is to stay away. If we had been asked, we would have recommended to the unnamed insurance company that it should not go ahead with a corporate retreat just days after the U.S. taxpayers were put on the hook for a humongous loan. The Congressional hearing, news and blogosphere comments and the parody on Saturday Night Live were all highly predictable. The answer that the money had already been committed was a non-starter.

A new day has dawned for any private sector business that is under increased government scrutiny. Think of the five senses and the fact that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. If you are only red faced to a small group of stakeholders, maybe that is a risk worth taking. For example, sometimes a corporate action that is favorable toward employees will not please investors. But when any two of the five senses are involved it is time get the reputation management folks to sit down with the business people.