Everyone should thank Andrea Leadsom for several valuable crisis media relations lessons.
The high profile problems which politicians and public ‘personalities’ produce for themselves provide all of us with the chance to learn from their heavily publicised mistakes.
Andrea Leadsom’s error in her interview with The Times last week and her desperate efforts to limit the damage and restore her reputation provide particularly poignant reminders of poor PR practice and how to avoid a self-created crisis.
- Media relations – preparing an interview plan – and sticking to it
If Andrea had a clear plan of what she was planning to say in the interview, to say that being mother gave her something that Theresa May did not have, was a major mistake. It showed either a basic error of judgement or if it was not part of the plan, an inability to stick to the plan and execute it. http://bit.ly/29DspXs
- Crisis media relations –stop digging a bigger hole and own up
Next she claimed she was misrepresented, blamed The Times for the outcry, demanded retractions, corrections and apologies. She must have known that the interview was recorded and all they had to do was make it public. When it was played on the Today programme on Radio 4 and other new bulletins, it fanned a flame into a bush fire that the whole country could see.
Finally, when it was too late, she owned up to the mistake and apologised to Theresa May. She should have done this the day the article was published, as a crisis management specialist should have advised. http://bit.ly/29xH4rd
All this followed the reputation-ruining rumblings about the inaccuracies and exaggerations in her CV. Together they made her a subject of widespread unflattering humour in the press and social media (Andrea #Loathsome), of suggestions that she was not fit to be Prime Minister and ultimately lead to her pulling out of the leadership contest.
So what have we learnt from this public PR downfall?
- The importance of an interview plan, thinking through each point carefully – what to say and not to say – and sticking to it.
- not to be liberal with the truth or make dubious insinuations in the first place – the real truth will come out.
- not to deny mistakes and not to blame the press – especially when they have recorded proof
- how not to handle a crisis
Thank you, Andrea