An unprepared duchess gets it so very wrong

Having praised Fergie for her hands-up-I-did-it response when she’d been caught selling her ex-husband’s influence, I must now put her in the getting it wrong category. It is good crisis management to do as she did at the start. It is bad crisis management to follow it up with an unprepared meander through a self-obsessed stream of consciousness, if consciousness it was.

This is where preparation becomes the point. No one should ever submit themselves to a media interview unless they are as sure as it is possible to be that they will not end up in submission. And being sure only comes after diligent preparation including rehearsals. Hoping for a sympathetic response by exposing an inner vulnerability just doesn’t cut it – especially if your reputation is already shaky.

There may be times when business leaders have to put themselves in the spotlight – and sometimes they will need to do so very speedily. Being prepared means anticipating the worst well in advance so that when it happens you are ready. There is no point in relying on a quick run through answers to possible questions while you are in the back of a cab on the way to the studio. That is not preparation; it is risky recklessness.

If you have a crisis management plan, well done. But when did you last shake off the dust on it and check through it, making sure both that it is up to date and that you are up to speed? And if you haven’t got one … be prepared for the sort of counter-attack Fergie has had today – lambasted around the world in newspapers, on radio and television, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and surely not in only one blog …

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