How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake
You know stuff happens.
Even when your team does all it can to avoid screw-ups and mistakes.
The thing is — mistakes aren’t what will land you (and your credibility) in trouble with your public… It’s the knee-jerk reaction we all have to them that will actually make matters worse.
Here are 3 tips to help your team handle inevitable mistakes.
1. It’s human nature to try to justify (even to ourselves) why the mistake happened, whose fault it is, why it wasn’t that big of a mistake (if one at all)…
This is the real mistake.
Of course you’ve got to be careful in how you go public with acknowledging any screw-up, miscalculation, poor analysis, or serious error. But giving in to the reflex to be overly-protective or defensive is guaranteed to make matters worse.
So, rather than being “careful” in how you go public with a mistake, the better advice is to be “thoughtful” and not cave to human nature when you deal with your team’s mistakes.
We wish we could prevent you from dealing with any mistakes, but that simply isn’t possible, nor is it necessary.
However, we’ll help you prevent those mistakes from damaging the public’s trust in you — and help you shape them into opportunities to deepen your credibility, even with the most cynical public.
2. Public Official? Don’t Act Like a Private Firm. Except When…
Even when you try you HARDEST to avoid mistakes…Embarrassing things still manage to happen. Even to the best teams.
Mistakes don’t discriminate, do they? They happen in public-sector, as well as private-sector organizations.
The question for you is:
How should folks like you, in the public-sector, handle mistakes? Especially BIG ones… that your team caused?
These firms specialize in salvaging the company’s name, or saving the brand in face of the screw-up.
But what can you do when you work in the public-sector?
Since so little is shared between the private and public domains, we felt it was worth sharing this particular piece of parallel advice with you.
3. Hiring a PR Firm Can Backfire for Public Organizations
You know what happens when a big corporation messes up. They hire one of the few Madison-Avenue PR firms with a reputation for knowing how to help clients who have been caught with their pants down.
Public agencies can’t really do that!
The trouble is, while the public doesn’t protest when a private-sector organization hires a spin-doctor (with the clear and obvious intention of “spinning” the public, saving face, and their image)…
That same public will NOT put up with a public agency doing the same thing.
Double standard alert!
Even so, we have to admit that even we, as a citizens, don’t really want our government to spend our tax money to hire a “spin-doctor” to “spin” us.
Yet mistakes happen, and your team needs to deal with them.
So how can you save your credibility with your public, when hiring a PR firm will only create more animosity and cynicism?
Is it a crazy “Catch-22” situation? What’s the best way to deal with it?