Sunday, January 1, 2012

Liat Towers Flooding About Turn by the Public Utilities Board (PUB)

In another Public Relations (PR) faux pas, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) has now admitted that high waters in the Stamford Canal contributed to the flooding at Liat Towers. This was after a PUB spokesperson issued an earlier statement essentially attributing responsibility to the pumping capacity of Liat Towers' flood prevention system.

Contrary to what many think of as crisis management, in today's day and age of 'perfect information', crisis communicators cannot change the facts of a crisis. The days in which “spin doctors” hide the truth and lie to stakeholders has gone the way of the dinosaurs. The most that a crisis communicator can do, is help frame the situation in a manner that better helps stakeholders deal with their anger and manage any possible brand or reputation damage to the organisation.

As such, one of the first rules for crisis communications is to always determine the truth before making a statement. And, in the event that the truth cannot be determined in time to stay ahead of the news cycle, state so in your statement. Stakeholders, while unforgiving, are reasonable and can accept (within a degree of tolerance) that it will take time to determine cause and effect.

While there is unlikely to be any further fall-out from this faux pas, the damage to the PUB is that all future statements will be tainted with doubt about their accuracy. I cannot say for certain what were the circumstances that led to the issuing of what turned out to be an inaccurate statement. But I must caution PR Professionals that while the organisation is your pay-master, your true value to the organisation is in managing its credibility in the eyes of the stakeholders. Thus, in circumstances where doubt exists over the accuracy of a statement, as a professional, you must stand your ground and not let it happen. 

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