Amidst the ongoing trials and tribulations in Flint comes the latest news that the FBI is now involved, with the EPA and others, in investigating potential criminal aspects of the water crisis. It is yet another reminder how failure to act quickly in an adverse situation can have long-term ramifications.
I am reminded in fact of a recent client who came to us amid pending child pornography charges by state and local law enforcement officials against a youth soccer coach. The case was solid but the state entity wanted the soccer club to wait – perhaps as long as two or three weeks – to notify parents. The reason? The politician in charge needed to clear space on his calendar for a press conference. ’What should we do’ the club/client asked me. ‘Do not hesitate in taking action now,” I answered back.
Parents were immediately notified, as were, in turn the youth soccer players with club leadership available, one-on-one, to answer the questions they could while deferring those they could not to the police. The coach was immediately fired. As such, the healing could begin and there would never be any question as to who knew what when and whether swift, decisive and correction action was taken.
He who hesitates is lost. It appears to be at the very core of what went wrong in Flint. Failure to take seriously the threat. Failure to consider the health and safety of those you are responsible for. Failure to accept immediate responsibility and take corrective action. I’m not piling on just underscoring the basic tenets of crisis communications and, in the end – no, at all times – doing the right thing.