–  James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA

Much as I admire Dov Seidman, the founder of LRN, his recent call for an “apology ceasefire” is precisely what self-forgiving, mistake-prone, could-care-less-about-victims executives are looking for: an officially sanctioned get-off-the-hook excuse.

The very things that make us recoil at some of the silly, foolish, naïve and arrogant apology attempts should spur us on to require even more rigor when an empathy/apology strategy is attempted.

There is a technique I’ve developed and have used over the years to actually screen potential crisis clients, including very large, well-known companies and very large, recognizable organizations. Crisis consultants are approached by all kinds of people and organizations looking for ways more to escape the consequences of their bad decisions, deeds, and statements rather than, understand what’s happened, the damage they’ve caused, and to move toward a compassionate, helpful and honorable resolution. That is, of course, until the lawsuits start and the bad headlines explode again, or the FBI shows up.

I call the technique “Seeking Forgiveness.” In fact, when companies and organizations call me, this is the discussion we have initially to give me an indication of whether or not they’re serious about resolving their issues and dealing with the problems they’ve created for victims. It’s also to give anyone who calls a preview of what the community, the public, victims and survivors will ultimately require for the bad news to go away and the reputation restoration process to begin.

Sometimes callers are simply looking for public relations assistance to defer, delay, deny or divert attention from the problems they are currently causing and experiencing. Or worse, they’re actually looking for assistance in demeaning, disrespecting and discrediting victims. I share a forecast of the fate of these perpetrators, too. It’s quite a different list.
Continue Reading Seeking Forgiveness: Time to Set a Much Higher Standard