Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he regretted what he called an “unauthorized” Twitter swipe from his team to a teen. Biden administration science adviser Eric Lander apologized for his treatment of subordinates. Joe Rogan said he was sorry for his use of the n-word in past podcasts just a week after an earlier apology about conversations on his show with vaccine skeptics. And Spotify CEO Daniel Ek apologized to staff for the impact on them of the racial slur controversy as the streaming service’s P.R. crisis continues.
But how effective apologies are often depends on how much responsibility the person takes—and increasingly important, who’s doing the listening. Communication pros say that while good apologies take unfettered ownership for what happened, the practicalities of a divided country mean it’s harder than ever to offer an apology that will appease everyone.
“In any discussion today it’s almost impossible to make everyone happy—and apologies are the same,” says Davia Temin, a communications adviser who is also a contributor to Forbes. “If you string a few of the right words together it can sound to people like it was an apology. … The art of the non-apology has been refined tremendously.” […read more]
Erika Solomon, Olaf Storbeck, Kaye Wiggins and Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times, November 8, 2021
German publishing giant Axel Springer plans to require its nearly 16,000 employees to disclose sexual relationships between managers and subordinates, in the wake of a scandal that led to the ousting of the editor of its flagship newspaper Bild.
Chief executive Mathias Döpfner, facing questions over his handling of the incident, wants to impose such rules for the first time in the media group’s 75-year history.
But the plan has been met with scepticism from the company’s powerful worker representatives in Germany. It also stops short of prohibiting the company’s most powerful executives from pursuing relationships with junior staff.
In the US, the Me Too debate has fundamentally changed employers’ attitudes. There is increasingly a zero tolerance for relationships between senior bosses and subordinates, said Davia Temin, who runs a crisis-management company in New York.
“The world is changing,” she said. “What is acceptable is changing, abuse of power and the concept of that is changing.”
At a growing number of US companies, top executives now had clauses in their contracts saying there can be no relationship whatsoever with more junior colleagues, said Jennifer Kennedy Park, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb, who has written about “anti-fraternisation” policies.
“At the most senior level, the argument about consent becomes the hardest to judge because the person at the top of the organisation has power over everyone,” she added. […read more]
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally weighed in on the escalating crisis at the social media giant on Tuesday with a lengthy missive that downplayed risks and hit the wrong note with people on and off the platform, doubling down on his defense of the company.
Communications advisers criticized Zuckerberg’s more than 1,300-word memo to employees for being too long, defensive and out of tune with the emotionally charged debate playing out over the social media platform’s role in society. The memo launched with a technical term about the outage, lobbed a series of rhetorical questions and defended Instagram’s impact on teenage girls’ mental health.
For many people, Facebook has become so emotional – and its impact on society, democracy and mental health so personal – that a response that doesn’t take that tone is lacking, advisers said.
Especially during the pandemic, said Davia Temin, the founder of a reputation and management consulting firm, Facebook has become a tool to which many people are emotionally connected after so much time at home alone.
But in the response, “he’s missing that emotional quotient, and he’s missing it by a mile,” she said. (Temin is also a contributor to Forbes.)
“As a CEO you have to appreciate points of view that are not your own. You may be convinced with every cell of your body they may be wrong but nonetheless you have to take it into consideration and you have to respond to it.” […read more]
AMC Entertainment Holdings CEO Adam Aron has been actively embracing on Twitter, YouTube and other platforms a new trove of investors who propelled the company’s stock price up more than 300% in the past month. The latest Reddit-driven phenomenon has companies reconsidering how to communicate with these investors and encourage them to stick around — especially for those companies that could use the investment to pay off debt and invest in innovations.
The so-called meme stock frenzy, which has led to a deluge of retail investors pouring into AMC, GameStop, Clover Health and the GEO Group, is a hotly debated topic on Wall Street, but for boards overseeing companies that suddenly have an influx of retail investors, sources say it’s important to nail down the right messaging, consider incentivizing these investors and use the cash wisely.
“This brave new world of all of these Internet platforms and every person having their own voice has the power to whipsaw pretty much everything we thought we knew, and that extends to the fundamental value of stock,” says Davia Temin, president and CEO of risk consulting firm Temin & Co. “The wise board, and certainly the wise company, has to understand what is going on and figure out the way to communicate to all parties in a way that engenders trust.” […read more]
April Hall, Directors & Boards, 2021 Second Quarter
After the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, many companies announced that they would halt political contributions, either permanently or for a defined period. Some discontinuations involved a particular political party, some individual legislators and some were complete stops on all contributions.
In the age of “cancel culture,” when social media can circulate calls for boycotts to millions of people in minutes, some companies have begun to act quickly, with either their words or their wallets, to distance themselves from political controversy But there are other companies that have leaned in to a variety of public political positions. This raises the question: Are some companies becoming recognized as “blue” (Democrat-supporting) or “red” (Republican-supporting), or even “purple”? And are such associations good for a company, its shareholders and its stakeholders?
Crisis communications consultant Davia Temin says she often encourages her client companies to take apolitical stands.
During political or social upheaval, sometimes “corporations have to become the adults in the room,” Temin says. Corporations need to maintain some neutrality, “but it’s the difference between making sure that as a corporation you have a purpose and if you’re true to purpose.”
However, she doesn’t usually advise being outwardly political. She says there is a difference between having a “political point of view” and speaking out about a “behavior,” like systemic racism.
“I still think strict political lines are not the way to go,” Temin says.
She also doesn’t support the legal idea behind the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which said the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting corporations’ independent expenditures for political communications. The decision has been popularly associated with the notion of “corporate personhood.”
“Corporations are not people,” Temin says. “They are conglomerations of people, and they need big tents for their clients, employees and other stakeholders.
“That is different than having a sole political point of view.” […read more]
The actress, who served 11 days in jail after pleading guilty in the Varsity Blues scandal, will star in an ABC comedy as the unlikely owner of a minor league baseball team.
“She’s been truly contrite and regretful, remorseful, about what she did,” said Davia Temin. “She comes out, maybe, with a renewed sense of purpose. That’s something that really works for reputation rehabilitation. Because it’s real.”
The video of an altercation on Monday between a white female executive and a black man in Central Park went viral almost immediately. Within 24 hours, the woman was out of a job.
The woman, an employee of Franklin Templeton, is seen calling the police on her mobile phone saying “there is an African American man, I am in Central Park. He is recording me, and threatening myself and my dog.” The man had earlier asked her to leash her dog in the wooded area of the park, called the Ramble, according to his account.
The incident underscores the nature of race relations in the U.S., in which African-Americans have faced outbursts — and worse — while simply going about their business. It also demonstrates that companies are increasingly holding employees accountable even for behavior that occurs outside the office.
“We’re living in chaos and predictable responses are going out the window,” said Davia Temin, founder of New York City crisis consultancy Temin and Co. “What wisdom would tell you, is to just walk away. But that usually takes a less stressful environment, and right now all the ions are charged.” […read more]
Jena McGregor, The Washington Post, April 10, 2020
When JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon released his widely read annual shareholder’s letter, he moved most of the typical charts and discussion about the company’s performance to the end, focusing instead “on issues that relate to our current crisis.”
His 23-page letter explained how the banking giant was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, detailing different economic scenarios, explaining what it’s doing for employees and customers, and discussing the strength of its liquidity and balance sheet. But Dimon also wrote, “We do not know how this crisis will ultimately end, including how long it will last, how much economic damage it will do, or how fast or slow the recovery will be.” The “actual new crisis,” Dimon wrote, “while it shares attributes with what is being stress tested — is dramatically different from the expected.”
In virtual boardrooms across America, managers are confronting unprecedented uncertainty as they try to communicate — with their investors, their employees and their customers — amid the all-consuming scope and scale of the pandemic. Finely tuned scenario plans are being upended, project timelines are getting cast aside and conventional playbooks are proving insufficient as managers face a health and economic crisis with no modern parallel.
In some cases, “we are no longer in crisis management, we are in chaos management,” said Davia Temin, eponymous founder of a reputation and management consulting firm. “You can do certain things and mitigate a crisis. This is out of our hands to some degree now.” […read more]
Kathryn Dill and Te-Ping Chen, The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2020
The nation is watching how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is handling the coronavirus outbreak, and it likes what it sees. Here’s how five crisis communications experts rate and react to his leadership style.
What America needs now is a field general, says Davia Temin, head of Temin & Co., a crisis-management and reputation consulting firm.
Someone who gives you facts, statistics, someone with a thoughtful, no-holds-barred, unvarnished approach. I’m not sure that Cuomo makes a perfect peacetime general, but he’s exactly what we need in a wartime general. He’s informed, his sleeves are rolled up, he’s walking the talk. He’s not abrogating the 6-foot rule just because he’s president or prime minister.
His brother’s situation has totally humanized him. It’s both intimate storytelling and authoritative, and that’s a very hard line to walk. I’m not sure I’d want to work for him—the pressure would be unholy—but he’s taking responsibility. He’s personally been trying to get ventilators, you get a feeling this is a guy in it up to his eyeballs.
In this kind of crisis, dysfunction kills. He has engaged our trust very quickly, and we need it more than we ever have, really. […read more]
Like all aspects of society, the rules of the C-suite are being rewritten under the pressure of a deadly pandemic. Professionals who help companies ensure leadership continuity say the coronavirus crisis has added a new urgency to their work. Some say clients are mulling whether to further isolate key executives; other clients have made private jets a given for top leaders who still travel; some have scattered top lieutenants across the globe as an added precaution. At least one is poised to hire a new chief executive officer largely by video interviews.
“Just as the virus cascades deeper into a population, so now too does your succession plan have to cascade into the population, into the hierarchy,” said Davia Temin, founder of New York crisis consultancy Temin & Co. And while bosses like JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon — a cancer survivor who just had emergency heart surgery — have a good plan in place, today’s coronavirus crisis means “you have to think of the succession to the succession.” […read more]