Who Says What You Say?
Marshall McLuhan’s mantra, “The medium is the message” is never so on display as in the selection of a spokesperson in times of crisis. Nor is the Authenticity Gap – the delta between an organization’s behavior and the public’s expectation.
It’s not enough to “tell the truth” when subjected to a critical spotlight. The selection of the truth-teller is an essential factor in the corollary objective: “be believed.” In any major industrial calamity, certainly one that involves loss of life, the only plausible spokesperson is CEO. Not the chief environmental officer. Not the chief quality officer. Not the president of North American operations. The CEO must assume the role of incident spokesperson because the situation demands it. The public expectation is that someone must represent responsibility for systemic aspects of operations. CEOs do that.