When Death Is the Crisis
One of the most difficult challenges leaders and their communicators face is what to do, what to say, how to behave, and what decisions to make when someone is killed. This problem does arise, all too frequently. Here are some useful guidelines for both operators and communicators:
1. The bigger the market, the less a single death seems to matter unless:
- The death is spectacular.
- The death reflects a pattern of malpractice, malfeasance, omission, negligence, or cover up.
3. Managing the victims and their survivors is 95 percent of your success. Anything less than a full throated communication and operational effort leaves the perpetrator vulnerable. Victim management is a long-term scenario. It can go well beyond settlement or even the end of litigation.
4. If you want to affect public opinion effectively, you have to influence employee opinion effectively, first. External communication strategies only work when there is a base in place that understands, supports, advocates, or remains neutral.
5. There is a pattern for successfully obtaining forgiveness.
6. There is a pattern for making your own problems worse.
7. There is a pattern to the power victims will have over you.
8. Focus on promptly settling these matters as aggressively, compassionately, and positively as possible.
9. Delay, stalling, timidity, and hesitation are the ingredients of failure. Silence is toxic to the perpetrator.
- Speaking for others
- Disparaging or discrediting
- All negative words and language
- Metaphors, paraphrases, or analogies
- Creating new critics or enemies
- Using old information to justify or forgive today's actions
- Relying on corporate or legal assumptions rather than the realities victims and their survivors/families believe they are actually facing.
- Taking any of this personally (stay at altitude)
12. Answer all the questions. For every question you skip, someone makes up an answer that you are going to wind up eating and owning.