However tough it is, saying sorry for a mistake is the right thing to do.
When things go wrong, a timely genuine apology can repair reputational damage and restore trust.
It helps if the words are heartfelt and backed up by a commitment to put things right. Comms professionals sometimes describe this as ‘owning a crisis’.
Being sincere. Taking ownership. Committing to putting things right. Learning lessons. We hail these as the steps to reputational redemption, whatever the problem.
But, as we’ve witnessed recently, reality and personality can get in the way of a textbook approach. April saw a spate of missteps followed by apologies, with varying degrees of success. In sharing these examples, we offer no comment on the events which led to the apologies. They speak for themselves and generated miles of copy already.
This is all about the contrition, and how it went down.
Continue reading “The hard truth about apologies: your reputation rests on them” →
A version of this post first appeared in Bristol 24/7’s Your Say section on 24 April. Thanks to them for taking these thoughts about a hot topic for the city.
Like many things in Bristol, there are mixed opinions online about news that the once grand (but now derelict) Grosvenor Hotel is to be demolished.
Bristol247 followed Bristol mayor Marvin Rees’ announcement that demolition will happen after years of wrangling, asking: should [the hotel] have been saved?
As owner of a small business based across the road from the building, who has worked in the area since 2010, I felt moved to respond to that question.
Continue reading “It’s sad, but right, to say goodbye to the Grosvenor Hotel” →
Confusing. Evasive. Flat-footed. Vague! Communicators often come in for criticism during moments of crisis.
Several high-profile examples hit the headlines since our last newsletter. They always stir up debate in our office, and amongst our PR friends.
First up is the BBC’s response to Gary Lineker’s tweet criticising the government’s small boats policy. I’ve included it below, without passing comment on it, to be clear on what was (and wasn’t) said.
The BBC’s late statement, its tone and inconsistent application of its social media policies stoked a culture war and damaged relations with government and staff. Former BBC news editor and Number 10 Director of Comms Craig Oliver (£) sets out a level-headed assessment of the situation which seemed absent at the height of the crisis. His points: make time to prioritise decisions. Move quickly and decisively. Accept there is no perfect solution that will please everyone.
Commentators also mentioned comms’ role – or lack of – in former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s evasive and tetchy performance at the privileges committee of MPs’ investigation into the Partygate scandal. In fairness, and as I’ve mentioned before, we’re well past the stage of blaming a culture of ministerial evasion on comms people. This has happened for years and needs changing.
And this report from the Housing Ombudsman into Catalyst Housing’s complaints handling and aftercare makes important points around poor communication, sharing information, tone and language. It points to a sector under pressure, created steadily in the absence of effective regulation over the last decade. Many comms people have warned of these risks. Sector leaders must own them now.
Continue reading “Why your comms team deserves a ‘thank you’” →
Growing hostility towards ‘15-minute cities’ is one of 2023’s more startling turn of events.
If you’re reading this, chances are you know something about it. Framed in the context of making places more connected, active, healthy and less reliant on cars, it’s easy to see why it’s caught on amongst policy-makers.
But have supporters missed a step in taking people with them? And have they clearly explained what 15-minute cities are, or aren’t?
Either way, those promoting a seemingly uncontroversial urban planning concept face a backlash.
Continue reading “Responding to the 15-minute cities fallout with smarter comms “ →
Volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. These words formed an acronym – VUCA – a few years ago summarising how modern life feels for many organisations.
Uncertainty shaped the narrative for much of 2022. Then September’s awful fiscal event brought other elements of the VUCA matrix more clearly into view.
It’s an interesting time to set up a new business, with inflation and cost-of-living concerns nudging the economy towards recession. Amidst the haze, predicting what to expect from 2023 seems like a mug’s game.
We can see this year will be challenging, for sure. We shouldn’t limit our ambition, but nor should we be too hard on ourselves if things don’t go to plan. Getting through it in decent shape, with a happy team that’s proud of its work would be a good outcome for 2023. And there will be opportunities and memorable moments too.
Continue reading “New developments in place and PR for 2023” →
It’s interesting to see all the ‘what a year!!’ celebratory posts across my social feeds at the end of a challenging 2022.
As I enter my 48th year, I too reflect on a year to be proud of, but without being too gushing about how ‘great’ it was. That’s because, in many ways, it wasn’t. It’s ulimately been a good year, but parts of it came at some personal cost. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I suggested otherwise.
I’ve returned to conversations I had this time last year, feeling ground down by perma-crises that affected all of us. Whilst the initial panic of COVID subsided, we had no sense of what was coming in 2022. Having set up Distinctive in June, two Prime Ministers and six fiscal events later, it’s a wonder I’ve found time to write any blogs.
While I haven’t completed as many as I wanted to, those I published performed better than in 2021. They also helped me process events happening around me.
If anyone who stopped to read or share them found them useful too, that’s a bonus.
Here are the three posts that had the most views in 2022.
Continue reading “My three most read blogs of 2022” →