Bad Interview Sparks Crisis

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    One interview gone wrong can cause a crisis management nightmare for your organization.

    Bad interviews have been responsible for igniting countless crises. A few errant words, and what would have otherwise gone largely unnoticed is suddenly an international sensation. The latest example of this is the case of UK nuclear sub commander Andy Coles, who ran his £1.2 billion ship aground late last week. A quote, from a Herald Scotland article by Helen McArdle:

    In a previously unpublished interview with a newspaper before the incident, Commander Coles reportedly admits previously ignoring advice not to sail the high-tech vessel in bad weather and says it has proved difficult to manoeuvre.

    He also says he believes he is getting too old for the job. “When I leave her next May I probably won’t go to sea on a submarine again,” he said. “I’m 47 now and I think it’s time for someone younger.”

    Cdr Coles, who is nicknamed Stumpy because he lost one of his fingers as a child, complains that the advanced nature of Astute’s periscope means that even minor mistakes by him can instantly be witnessed by crew members when the information flashes up on the submarine’s high-definition television screens.

    He said: “In the old days you could spin round, see you’d had a close shave and think to yourself ‘I’ve got away with it.’ Now everyone knows.”

    Scary statements from the man responsible for the well being of the UK’s most powerful attack submarine and her crew. Both the interview and the Commander’s actions have made the Royal Navy, which was seemingly unaware of the interview, appear weak and foolish in the public eye, creating a rough crisis management scenario. One advantage the Navy holds is a strong foundation of trust and good will with the people, which will help to direct blame towards Coles and prevent any significant reputation damage.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]