Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SG Social Media Guru: Online PR Fail - Anton Casey Apology Draws More Ire

It was reported that Singapore-based British banker Anton Casey has engaged Fulford Public Relations to help manage the fall-out caused by his callous Facebook comments about Singaporean. Through his PR agency, the following statement of apology was issued to the media and online.

 
“I would like to extend a sincere apology to the people of Singapore. In the past 24 hours due to a recent chain of events, which include my misguided attempt at humor, a security breach of my personal Facebook page and the misuse of an old video by unknown sources, my family, especially, my five-year-old son has suffered extreme emotional and verbal abuse online.
 
It must be made extremely clear that a YouTube video of me, with my son in the background was not posted in response to any recent events. This video was made weeks prior and has been misused to portray me as unrepentant. Police investigation into this matter, including receiving death threats, is ongoing. I have offended and disrespected the people of Singapore, my family – especially my five-year-old son. He is an innocent party to this unfortunate and extremely stressful situation. I wish for nothing more than to be forgiven for my poor judgment and given a second chance to rebuild the trust people had in me as a resident of this City – specifically for my family.
 
Regards,
Anton S Casey”
 
As an online reputation consultant, I cannot help but see the failure of the statement to adequately address the situation. In situations like this where the client is clearly at fault, the apology's role is to "accept responsibility" and help stakeholders "deal with their anger." The latter is usually in the form of an offer of contrition in proportion to the perceived injustice. Suffice to say, the statement by Anton Casey lacked both and has (in my opinion) further fuelled anger towards him by portraying him as insincere and defiant. Instead of helping, the apology has done more harm than good.
 
So what can Anton do? Unfortunately, the damage done by the apology has removed any remaining credibility. His only remaining approach is to remain silent and, if he wants to rebuild his credibility, use third parties to "speak on his behalf".
 
The main lesson here is that in a crisis, you only get one chance to apologies. So make sure you get it right.
 
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