I have written recently about the reputational risk.

The story of Thomas Cook and the death of two children due to a faulty gas supply is a classic example of how not to do it.

What happenned to those two children was something that could and should have been prevented and all sorts of risk management lessons could be drawn from the detail of the case.

However, my point here is that however bad it was, Thomas Cook’s senior management and their spokespersons made mit many time worse by the way they handled the story.

  • First they refused to apologise.
  • Then they refused again.
  • Then they gave a half-hearted apology.
  • Then they gave a fairly decent one.
  • Then they completely failed to justify their receipt of compensation from the other company involved.
  • The latest step is the announcement that their boss is to donate her massive bonus to charity.

At each stage they seem to have shown no understanding for the way ordinary people would judge their actions, or lack of.

The words “Too little and too late” come to mind, regarding the apology(ies).

This just underlines my point that whatever goes wrong in your business, you can always make the damage many times worse by inept and insensitive handling of the press.  Manage the whole risk, not just the initial problem!

 I do not know who was advising Cooks but I hope I never find them “helping” me in a tight spot!