HG TV’s Crisis Management Response: Flag Folly

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    Flag Folly: HGTV’s Crisis Management Response

    A crisis management response was required after a predictably polarizing article published

    We never seem to run dry on examples of easily preventable crises. Last week, an article on Home and Garden TV’s website discussing Fourth of July table settings suggested that an American flag be used as a “bright and festive table runner.” Whoops…

    As you probably guessed, flocks of military vets and their families, along with citizens from just about every walk of life, descended on HGTV’s social media sites to rip the network a new one for its misuse of the flag.

    To HGTV’s credit, it quickly deleted the article and posted an apology, but to its detriment, the apology was a weak one.

    HGTV Weak Apology

    What key element of successful crisis communication was missing from this apology? COMPASSION!! Sure the station apologized and told everyone how patriotic they are, but there was no statement of compassion for those who were hurt and offended, and judging from the angry comments posted not only on the apology but also in just about every other thread on the HGTV Facebook page, there were a lot.

    “Why would anyone want to listen to you if he felt you had not first listened to him?” ― Dr. Xavier Amador

    Showing compassion demonstrates to your audience that you have heard them and that you understand exactly why they’re upset. Only by unlocking their eyes and ears with a dose of compassion can you truly be effective in crisis management response communications.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]