I've been very hesitant to use Tiger Woods as an "example". I'm not going to join in kicking him while he is down. But there are 3 (& probably more) Crisis Communications lessons churches and organisations can learn from Tiger and the media.
1. Reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.
Tiger is was squeaky clean living personified. No matter how much "good" a church does, the brand & reputation of the church that took decades to build can be destroyed in a moment.
2. If a story breaks - Explain your side of the story fast & first.
Tiger didn't talk at all. Over the following days after the story broke rumours started to fill the void that he left.
Explain your side of the story out fast and first. Stick to the facts and what you know.
Just like Tiger, if you don't talk to the media it will talk to every one else around you who has a good or bad opinion about your church or organisation (the media news cycle refreshes almost every hour and is hungry for new content).
3. Be honest & tell the whole story
Don't try and spin your way out of a situation. Don't be vague or play with semantics. If something has happened and your church or organisation is responsible – apologise.
Don't only listen to lawyers and hold back. Explain:
- The facts of what has happened.
- Why it happened (if you can).
- What you are doing to ensure that it never happens EVER again.
- Apologise repeatedly & unconditionally to whoever was directly impacted by whatever happened.
You can never say sorry enough.What do you think we can learn? What would you add?
Does your church or organisation have a crisis management communnications strategy in place to lead you out of a crisis?
What are you doing where you are?