Sitting back and observing over the last few weeks, here are some observations about a few major crises:
When President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked on the phone last Thursday, Putin employed a basic crisis tenant. He broke the bad news to Obama about the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine. While Putin was reportedly incomplete with his facts, he at least followed the rule that if there is bad news to release, you should be the one to release it.
That’s, again, just an observation. Putin obviously did not end the crisis, failing to take responsibility, apologize, talk about how it would not happen again or get all the facts out. But interesting nonetheless that he even admitted the crash to Obama.
On a similar global stage, the Israeli artillery barrage that killed four young cousins on a beach in Gaza last week was just the most recent horror from that region, where some 500 Palestinians and Israelis have died in two weeks of fighting.
In terms of crisis management, you had to read between the lines on this one. Israel rarely publicly admits mistakes. [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a thorough investigation of the murder of a Palestinian teen-ager that was seen as a revenge killing for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli boys precipitating the current crisis.] But, in the beach bombardment, the Israeli authorities issued a terse statement saying the situation would be investigated and reviewed. In government speak that as much as admits guilt.
The final international crisis that’s been prominent in recent weeks is the influx to America of mainly young children from Central America. This flow from poor to wealthy areas generated an array of reactions. Some residents of border towns angrily denounced federal efforts to house the children in their border towns. Other officials, heeding Obama administration requests, offered emergency shelter, as did Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
The Obama administration has been slow to react and ineffective in solving the problem. While Congress failed to pass meaningful legislation reforming immigration law, this crisis has festered for months, absent effective management.
Obama neglected, in a recent visit to Texas, to go to a scene of the problem and discuss it openly. He didn’t take responsibility and didn’t set a clear path to a solution. Though he did meet with Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, his antithesis. Points for that.
And so it goes…
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.