13 May 2016 1 Comment

David Cameron unpresidential gaffe: Case study/Public relations Implication

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

David Cameron, London Anti-corruption summitDavid Cameron, The United Kingdom Prime Minister, is known for tact and high sense of diplomacy. But three days ago In a pre event meeting with the Queen of England, a build up towards London Anti-Corruption summit which will end today, David Cameron was having a private conversation with others and he unwittingly made unsavoury remarks about leaders of Afghanistan and Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’.

We will not know the reason why David Cameron let lose his guard in the presence of media professionals from varied organizations. Even if he has a personal opinion to express and given his antecedents, he was not noted to be a careless Politician. On the face value, he had vehemently defended Aids allocation for Nigeria among other good works he was known to have done. But in this case, he went so low in expressing his personal biases to a cause people strongly believe he and his Country cared so much for.
After few hours, what David Cameron considered a private conversation turned into a global conversation which did a lot of damage in terms of negative backlashes to his personality and the Country he is leading. David Cameron ‘ s long time image as a global personality who constantly fights a cause for undeveloped countries was rubbished as many sound and credible authorities came down hard on him.

Not only him, David Cameron’s unguarded statement brought a lot of negative condemnation to his country. Today, many had accused Great Britain of double standard and a safe haven for corrupt investment. According to varied media sources, even David Cameron’s Father and predecessors had joined issues with his critics.. We all know this is a face saving tactic. A strategy to provide soft landing for the country. British foreign Ministry and its Embassies across the world had maintained silence on this. This is considered to be the best strategy in this case.

In a corporate real life situation, we do know the Chief Executives do hold private opinion about certain issues. But in most cases as corporate leader and representatives, they must stick with the position of the company. CEO needs to know when they are in public arena, media are always around and their job is to report what they consider as newsworthy. If the above had happened to a corporate entity, a lot of hard digging would have been down and published about that organisation.

Corporate communication team needs to let the CEO know It will be expedient to keep personal opinion private and limit such discussion to when they are only with their friends and not in a public function like cock tails, pre event meetings etc. A reputation of ten years can be destroyed in one second. Just because you say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
In Public event, where the CEO is attending in that capacity, s/he needs to know every word counts and is newsworthy especially if it is negative or judgemental. The Queen of England should be commended for living up to her class. She maintained a perfect silence. It is propoably true she had a personal opinion, but she kept that to herself. She is conscious of her position, personality.

But what can we learn from this?
Becareful An unguarded statement in Public event can…: Carefully considered your environment before you express negative comments about others especially when they are not there. The wall have ears. If you are a face of your organization, it will be appropriate to limit your position to what the organization stands on.

Speak Out: even though in this case neither the foreign affairs nor David Cameron himself/Spokesperson has tendered apology, Britain had her used eminent citizens to tacitly condemn such statement. For a corporate organization or individual making a public statement showing remorse will be a good idea. A case in point was when Nigeria Minister of state for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu spoke out of anger in a chat with State House Press men, he was humble enough to offer sincere apology.

Use the time to showcase your corporate good deeds: it will not be out of place for corporate communication team to use the time of tension to promote the organization as well as the CEO’s good deeds in the past to the aggrieved audience. This will help.
This list is not exhaustive, can you add yours?

Photo credit:ibtimes.co.uk

One Response to “David Cameron unpresidential gaffe: Case study/Public relations Implication”

  1. Stef 2 June 2016 at 6:00 pm #

    This is a great example of crisis management. This is what we train for people

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