The Liberian government (GOL) is currently facing a crisis of confidence over the mysterious disappearance of a container full of Liberian dollars in the country earlier this week. This situation has further exposed the Weah-led Administration to tighter scrutiny by the press and public. Obviously, it is the duty of the government’s PR team to ensure that its (government) most treasured asset—its image—is not dragged in the mud during this rocky period. Unfortunately, however, judging from the ongoing blame game on the part of the GOL, one can safely say that the focus is more on damage control instead of crisis containment. Let it be known that attempting to bury a bad news can be poisonous as it relates to crisis communication. As such, there is urgent need to consider the following:
- Have a strategic crisis communication plan in place.
- Think and analyze the situation before coming out with a stance.
- Have a designated spokesperson—the need for consistency cannot be over emphasized. It is the job of the spokesperson and his team to feed the press and public with instant, consistent, accurate information in order to clear the air and reduce speculations.
- Understand that providing misleading information to the press and public is a disastrous tactic that could hurt the government’s image.
- “No comment” is never an appropriate response
- “Off the record” comments should be avoided
Moreover, the GOL needs to demonstrate leadership and concern in several ways:
- Be honest and forthright in your relations with the press.
- Do not appear to be covering up. Pointing to a scapegoat or offering excuses is not acceptable. Any attempt to bury an already ugly or bad news is often a very difficult thing to do. Bad news will still pop up no matter how hard you try to conceal it.
- Asking for media support and patience would be appropriate.
- In general, accept responsibility that the situation occurred and point to steps that are being taken to avoid similar situations in the future.
In sum, quit the blame game and face the issue squarely to avoid a costly PR repair process.