Several months ago, Red Banyan Group posted a crisis PR blog entry about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford facing allegations that he smoked crack cocaine. The article explored Ford’s less-than-ideal crisis management responses to media covering the issue. Ford attacked the members of the press who had accused him, gave brief and highly scripted statements which danced around the issue, and refused to take direct questions from the media.
After six months of continued vehement denials, Mayor Ford admitted yesterday that he had smoked crack cocaine while in office.
If Ford had simply come clean months ago when the story broke, he could have spared himself repeated news cycles focusing on the charge. Instead, he faced a flurry of bad press when the accusation was leveled, ongoing coverage in the months since, and a whole new raft of stories now that the claims have been confirmed.
Additionally, his months of fervent denials ultimately leading to a confession have done major damage to his image and the public’s trust in him. While a connection with illegal drugs is not a positive association, he would at least have gained credibility for being honest and forthright if he had come out with the truth initially.
A word to the wise (and Toronto’s mayor) regarding crisis public relations: If a negative story is going to come out, then do yourself a favor and tell your story early, tell it all, and tell it yourself or others will tell it for you.
P.S. Don’t lie. You damage your integrity when you do that, especially since the truth almost always comes out eventually.