So with that in mind, what can we learn from this great big dogs’ dinner?
1. Don’t break the law.
It’s a simple thing to do; you just have to stop breaking the law. It makes life easier.
2. Plausible deniability.
In this case it's the plausibility of the idea that a newspaper editor didn’t know that his/her employees were breaking the law. The plausibility of the denial rapidly reduces with questions like ‘how did you miss that someone was being paid £100k?’ or ‘seriously, you didn’t know?’ if you’re going to use plausible deniability when your organisation is in crisis make sure someone from within questions you hard about it. It needs to be water tight and erm… plausible.
3. Confess quickly.
The News Of The World did not confess quickly enough. Sorry, News International did not confess quickly enough. There is something baffling about a quick confession. If you have weighed up the pros and cons and found that your reputation will be less damaged by getting the confession in quickly, DO IT. School children across the globe know that to confess to a minor misdemeanour confuses teachers; and it really throws interviewers.
4. Understand the emotion.
Why do people choose to consume a particular non-essential product? There is a huge amount of research in this area and a vast number of professionals working in the marketing industry who will give you a very detailed answer to that question. The most compelling reason to me is that they have an emotional connection with it; it fulfils one of their emotional needs. In this case The NOTW was like an edgy friend, one that you liked hearing from but at the same time knew that they were a little wayward. When a friend does something appalling it’s far worse than a stranger. They have betrayed your trust even though you knew what they were like. If you fail to understand the emotional reaction to your crisis you’re failing to address the reason people will stay away; remember what The Sun did on Merseyside. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster#The_Sun_newspaper