Practice What You Preach or Pay the Price

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    NBC chief medical correspondent learns a hard lesson

    Practicing what you preach is vital to crisis management. Now former NBC chief medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman learned that lesson the hard way after breaking a (semi) voluntary quarantine imposed as a result of a crew member falling ill with Ebola while filming in Liberia.

    Although the team agreed to the quarantine, Snyderman and members of her crew were spotted grabbing takeout food just days after it began. This resulted in major public outcry and Snyderman being placed on “family leave” from NBC. Her situation was only further compounded after she released a disingenuous statement that made it clear she took zero personal responsibility for the misstep.

    “While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed. We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal. As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused. We are thrilled that Ashoka is getting better and our thoughts continue to be with the thousands affected by Ebola whose stories we all went to cover.”

    Snyderman did eventually appear on the Today show where she offered a more solid apology, but the damage was done. According to insider reports her relationship with the network continued to slide downhill, and earlier this month she stepped down from her position of nine years.

    Whatever your purpose, position, or product, it’s absolutely critical that you practice what you preach. Saying one thing while doing another may work for a while, but when your stakeholders catch on things are guaranteed to get rough.

    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, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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