Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

“Teacher Millie say if Yuh Tell Ah Lie Yah Going to Hell as Soon as Ya Die” – The Mighty Sparrow

Never have the lyrics to this Calyspo been more true. In today’s world of fast paced communication and information sharing at the click of a button – Caribbean Communicators now face what PR professionals in the US and UK have faced for the past 3-4 years – if you hide or WORSE, if you lie – it WILL come back to haunt you.

But we all know it, we live in a world or work in industries rife with those who tout the need to ensure “THAT” does not get out – particularly to competitors. What if RIM knew what APPLE was working on for the next IPHONE? What if KFC learned the secret recipee for Royal Castle Chicken? Well guess what? Its the smaller stuff you need to worry about. LIke how you treat your employees, what your sports day budget was and whether the boss man really cares about employees that can and will ALSO get out. SO… is honestly always the best policy?

Yes. Here are some tips on how to help your bosses deal with any ticklish situation: ASK

  1. What CAN we say? Evaluate the legal issues and competitive issues first. Always know that once you use a service provider, send an email, ask an assistant for a copy – ANYTHING you do can and will leak SO you may as well say SOMETHING to your staff to at least be ahead of the gossip. For Example: Pending merger? Trapped by legal issues and unable to confirm anything? Say “We at Airline GGG are always seeking opportunities to increase our customer service delivery and to enhance our value proposition to customers. We continue to remain committed to providing accurate and timely information to our staff and stakeholders and thus encourage staff and the public to access our formal news distribution networks to access updates on matters which affect our airline.”

Know what that says? It says :1. We care about employees and customers and seek their interest. 2. We have a formal communication channel for accurate information 3. We will communicate again – when there is something to say on this and other matters. Gee? Gossipers! Take DAT in ya pfeum! (as we Trinis say!)

         2. ASK Why SHOULDN”T We Say Anything? Note, this is a different queston to what CAN’T we say. Asking what we “SHOULD NOT” say means you examine you policies and proceedures, your core values and your mission/ vission to ensure the language, approach and actual content of your message is consistent with what your organization stands for, OR, in the case of a personal crisis (people PR is HARD!!)  – what YOU stand for!

3. ASK Who NEEDS to Know. In the Caribbean, we lack Crisis Communication training. Please email me if you need help developing your crisis plan or on dealing with a pending/ actual crisis (internal/ external) at your organization What qualifies me? Not my Master of Arts in Communication….nope! It was definitely my experience dealing with a) Enterobacter Outbreaks and the consequent deaths of 6 babies at hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago in 2004 when I was Communications Officer at the NWRHA b) Handling the Media Relations for Trinidad and Tobago’s largest construction accident. But ENOUGH about me.

THE KEY IS – Who NEEDS to know NOW? In both instances, the answer was my boss and the ministrial offices of my line Ministries. That was on a Crisis Comm systems chart I created in both instances. Create One for yourself with your CEO asking, “in the event of a major situation/ crisis, who would we HAVE to contact immediately – and have their contact numbers.

4. Be Honest. Be Timely. Be Careful. Everything you say can and will be documented and live FOREVER on U-tube.

Tune in next week for more.



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One Response to “Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?”

  1. The Crisis Communication Crisis in Trinidad and Tobago | krisgranger Says:

    […] short since we have some pretty good references that add depth to our understanding, for instance Is Honesty Always the Best Policy, by Danielle […]

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