Monday, May 12, 2014

Mark Franklin's Apology - Why it failed ....

Once again it appears that the behavior of an expatriate in Singapore has offended Singaporean. This time, is it Mr. Mark Franklin, the Managing Director of Piaggio in Singapore in what appears to be a road rage incident. While I cannot, or will not, take sides in this matter simply because I was not there and (despite the in-vehicle video) it appears to be a "he said she said" kind of thing, what I will say is that similar to the Anton Casey incident, Mark's apology (while swiftly and personally delivered) did not have the desired effect of quelling public outrage.

As a crisis communications consultant, let us analyze where Mark (and Anton) went wrong ...
Mark Franklin's Apology

"First and foremost, I want to apologise to the anonymous driver with whom I had the disagreement shown in the video, and to all who felt offended after watching the silent clip.”

“I humbly admit that I reacted in an inappropriate manner and I deeply regret my response.  I lost my patience and for that I am truly sorry.”

“I would like to stress that in the years that I  lived in Singapore, I have built close friendships with many Singaporeans and have greatly enjoyed living and working here. I have absolutely no prejudices against the people of Singapore, or of any other population.”

“Precisely because of the affection and friendships that link me to Singapore, once again I hope that my apology will be accepted by the anonymous driver and by all.”


Reputation Management
The first principle of reputation management is to understand and address stakeholder concerns. In this instance, a stakeholder analysis will reveal that public anger centers on the assumption that Mark leads a "privilege" lifestyle in Singapore and that he considers himself "superior" to the locals. As such, any apology or statement from Mark that does not deal with this concern is destined to fail. With this understanding of the context for the public anger, it is clear that Mark's apology failed to address this concern.

The second mistake that Mark and Anton made is that they did not offer any form of contrition. To stakeholders used to PR spin, an apology is just words if it is not followed by some "self-punishment". The willingness to "punish" oneself is taken by stakeholders to represent sincerity. Once again, in both Mark's and Anton's apology, no mention of any acts of "contrition" were offered, resulting in accusations of lack of insincerity.
As a communications consultancy, specializing in reputation management, it is CW Fong & Associates' belief that both Mark Franklin and Anton Casey could have better handled the negative fall-out from their actions if they had addressed stakeholder concerns in their apology and back that apology with a show of contrition.
CW Fong & Associates is a Singapore-based communications consultancy specializing in reputation management. We have consulted with Singapore and international companies and celebrities on incidences pertaining to attacks on their reputation. For a confidential consultation, contact us via Justin[a]

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