University takes the high road when it comes to crisis management
Ohio State’s football program has been in hot water since late May, when it came to light that (now)ex-coach Jim Tressel was aware of players receiving kickbacks and selling OSU equipment for cash on the side.
OSU leadership has tightened up, refusing to crucify Tressel for his errors and remaining silent for the most part as the NCAA proceeds with its investigation, which, according to BCM President Jonathan Bernstein, is probably a good idea.
A quote, from the Columbus Business First:
Also willing to give Ohio State a break on its handling of the Tressel situation is Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management Inc. in Los Angeles. He gives Ohio State good marks on one of the keys to effective crisis communications – showing compassion toward those with an important stake in the company or organization buffeted by the crisis.
“They didn’t lynch Coach Tressel,” said the crisis management consultant of more than 25 years. “They clearly put the feelings of their most important audiences first – students, alumni and donors. That is what you should do.”
Most important, Bernstein said, is crisis communicators need to be honest and their information must pass the fact test. And a press conference may not be best to disseminate that information, he said.
“They can be real feeding frenzies and everyone goes negative,” he said. “None of the key stakeholders at Ohio State needed to see a press conference (on Tressel’s resignation).”
OSU is actually doing a fairly deft job of crisis management in acknowledging that yes, there is blame to be had, but not dumping the entire load on Tressel or demoralizing stakeholders more than necessary. Thanks to that quick acknowledgement, the focus can more quickly turn to the solution to, rather than the cause of, the problem.
The BCM Blogging Team