Business Report: Corporate communications when things go wrong

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Most big companies employ communications professionals - people who supposedly do a better job of talking for the company than the operational people do. Even if that's true, that's a problem, most especially when the company does something wrong. Bumpinggate, the United deboarding debacle, is a case in point.

The PR professional wasn't on that flight. He gets his information from an operations manager. The operations manager wasn't on that fight. He gets his information, hopefully, from someone who WAS there. So even in a best-case scenario, the information is third-hand.

Third-hand information often loses some accuracy, but particularly in cases where the first person may be held responsible for the event, and the second person has higher level responsibility. It creates pressure for the first person spin events in his defense, and the second person to accept that spin.

The problem arises when the PR person unquestioningly accepts this version of events. When this happens, everyone has forgotten that we live in an age of reverse surveillance, and there may be witnesses with smart phones documenting the unvarnished version of what really happened.

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