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October 16, 2015
Cool It: Volkswagen's Headlong Crisis Response
 
Back to Volkswagen for a bit. It can be argued, and Andy Barr is doing so on The Drum, that VW has been rushing through its crisis communication plan, assuming it has one and drilled on it before its diesel crisis hit. Corporate panic isn't an effective response.

Rushing through a crisis may cost a further loss of trust, not a ready restoration of reputation. Andy Barr notes it’s as though VW has “checked off” its crisis actions before being clear about what it’s  actually facing in rallying the public.

“This has all been done in less than one month since the starting gun was (mis)fired,” Barr writes. “The CEO should have been left in position until far later down the line, not least because he would have become the focus of the media ire and deflected the rage away from the company. Once the investigations were underway, and a more true financial impact been established, only then should he have gone.”

And so forth. Yes, the tempo of a crisis is important to grasp at the start. If there’s not a clear and present danger to public health and safety, there’s time to sort it out and act responsibly as learning occurs. In short, don’t be panicked.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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