public relations

Bad PR Can’t Cover Up for Stupid Actions

(Also from earlier this year, still moving content over)

And in news from Northern Ireland, where the deep winter freeze has wrecked havoc on water pipes throughout the small nation during Christmas-time, and the country’s water supply service had very limited plans to help provide water to patrons, what could add to the problem and potentially cost the head of Northern Ireland Water his cushy 250,000-pound/year job?

If you said “bullshitting the media and not answering questions until you get called out with irrefutable evidence of screw ups, and not addressing the growing public outcry asking what the hell is going on,” then you’d be right.

In yet another instance of not planning ahead for a disaster, and then not answering the media’s questions when said disaster happens, the Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Laurence MacKenzie, the head honcho of Northern Ireland Water is preparing to leave his job because of the way the organization screwed up the current water crisis going on.

This comes on the heels of multiple radio shows by BBC Northern Ireland’s Stephen Nolan, the head of what Nolan daily refers to as “the biggest show in the country,” (because at a projected 100,000+ daily listenership it probably is) digging into what was really going on with the lack of water in Northern Ireland. Nolan did what any good journalist would do – he didn’t take the story at face value and dug long enough until he figured out that one of the largest hospitals in the country, the Royal Victoria Hospital, was without water and having to hand out bottled water while telling the media at the same time that they were never doing this.

And at the same time that multiple news outlets are reporting that he is preparing to leave his office, MacKenzie steadfastly continues on stating he’s not getting ready to leave his job, and he’s definitely not leaving in on Wednesday. If the media is right and he leaves, then we’ve got one more instance of him trying to mislead the media to the end.  Oh well, at least he’d be consistent.

I’m not going to get preachy here, really I’m not. I’ve said enough times that if you are going to do something stupid and lie about it to the public then you are going to get caught, end of story (yet for some reason people keep doing it). My only advice in this instance, as a PR professional, is to come clean about what happened with this organization, allow the CEO to throw himself on his sword, cash in his severance package, and start anew with a new leader and a new promise to not do this again. Not the disaster, because those happen (and it’s good to prepare for them), but the lying.

And in a rare move of honesty and honorable service to the public, live up to that promise.

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