25 mars 2004
When in crisis, use credible quotes (part 2)
While we're on the subject of crisis and quotes, some of the things that President Bush's team is saying about Richard Clarke are dismaying.
There are two aspects here. In crisis communications, most people espouse the doctrines of "one spokesperson" and "get the truth out".
I disagree slightly with the first part... I think there can be more than one spokesperson. But there has to be only one "voice." And I fully agree with the second part: whatever is being said has to be true.
(I know that this is almost impossible to believe for people that aren't in PR but we really do try to stick to the truth. It goes to credibility and that's one of the most valuable things we have. I know I certainly won't waste my credibility for any reason. But that's a rant for another day.)
Like I said, the Bush team is reacting particularly badly on this issue. They're breaking both of those tenets at the same time.
Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh on Monday that Clarke "was out of the loop" on "a lot of what was going on" regarding terrorism. (Let's set aside the fact that, if true, that's weird--to say the least--considering that Clarke was head of counter-terrorism.)
When asked to comment on the vice-president's comment, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, is quoted as saying "I would not use the word 'out of the loop.' He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism. All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11."
Children, that is what I mean by speaking with one voice. And being truthful. There not saying the same thing. And only one of them can be telling the truth.