Friday, June 25, 2004

Out of Control 

One last note before heading off on the road.

There is a state of existence in which an organization has no control over its future. It lives amid events so much larger than the organization itself that it cannot do or say much to influence the outcome. Instances in which this happens include the death of Enron when forces moved against the company quickly, the demise of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm swept up in the Enron affair, the collapse of large US airlines that continues.

The question is what to do when this happens. The answer isn't easy. The CEO might stand amid the wreckage and rally the troops until the bitter end -- or not. One might continue to deal with the media -- or not. The awful truth is that everyone knows the outcome will be damaging. It just depends how bad it will be -- whether the organization will survive in some form or disappear. Rah-rah morale building is hollow. Optimistic statements to the media are laughable. Acknowledging the awful state is good, but everyone knows that, don't they?

It takes a leader to keep an organization focused at times like these and tough PR practitioners to find ways to communicate effectively when there is nothing to say.

I'm of a belief that one keeps communicating in some fashion until the end, whatever that is. But then, that might be foolish. On the other hand, useless communications make matters worse, so the course one chooses is critical. But there are no rules for situations like this. One endures or leaves.


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