Tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself.

Today’s Times (Saturday April 9, 2016) was remarkably ‘on the money’ in quoting Bill Clinton’s special counsel Lanny Davis’s advice to the president on the Monica Lewinsky affair. Tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself. If only Bill had listened… and if only Call Me Dave had listened too. The Prime Minister tried to ride out the storm about his offshore investments for two days, then finally came clean to ITV News’s Robert Peston. (In an exclusive interview, incidentally, re-broadcast by the BBC without any credit. How petty our national news organisations can be about their former staff, and how big of ITN not to complain about their exclusive being hi-jacked, which they were certainly entitled to do).  But back to Mr Cameron’s Confession. His explanation was clear, concise, and as far as we know correct. But it was just an explanation: and in a crisis, an explanation will never get you off the hook. It will always sound like an excuse. We always teach the Three R’s in crisis management. Recognise (the public’s point of view) Relate (the facts to start putting the record straight) and most importantly Remedy (tell us what action you’re going to take in light of the problem that’s been identified). When trouble strikes, trust disappears. And the only reason to speak to the media under those circumstances is to build trust back. It worked for Dido Harding, CEO of the hacked Talk-Talk phone system. She was in TV studios at ten-thirty at night pointing out that it was too early to say what had been hacked, but that they’d closed down their sites just to be safe (first question to her “this happened two days ago. Why are we only hearing about it now?”). It worked for Nick Varney, CEO of Alton Towers who emphasised time and again in the face of a tireless onslaught from Kay Burley that extra safety measures had been implemented immediately. The Prime Minister is about to publish his tax returns, and maybe the Remedy will be sufficient. Only time will tell whether this little local difficulty will be Tax, or Taxi, for Mr Cameron.

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