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20 years

Friday, March 11, 2011

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. http://wapo.st/fQpl2O

• 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. http://buswk.co/ht2QTk

• 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. http://bit.ly/endAZX

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?

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