[This is a guest post by Dave Statter, who recently retired from the broadcast news business and now consults to public safety agencies on media matters. It provides readers with several excellent lessons about crisis management.]
When PGFD paramedics misidentified flesh eating bacteria and related signs as decomposition following death (despite a Glenarden, Maryland man still being alive), the department handled the bad news in text book fashion. Rather than wait for those pesky reporters to uncover the mistake, Chief Spokesman Mark Brady was proactive. Brady sent out a press release before there was a leak and told the story himself. The initial coverage had little shelf life and disappeared from the news rather quickly. A good lesson and reminder for all of us about a story that had the potential to linger for days.
But here’s another lesson. Candor in your efforts to get the bad news out and over with doesn’t necessarily mean you can completely control the message. Now, almost four months later the story has surfaced again because the daughter of the man (who really died the next day) says she wants an apology from the medics who made the error. Click here to watch the latest story and here to read it.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management