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10 Days of Crisis Communications: Number 5

21 Dec 2013

10 Days of Crisis Communications: Number 5

There are lots of great tips out there for dealing with a crisis. One of the nicest, most succinct ones we’ve seen comes courtesy of Melissa Agnes and addresses the Top Ten Crisis Management Take-Aways from 2013. So, the team at Capstone decided our Christmas gift to you is the Ten Days of Crisis Management – You won’t find any maids a milking here, but you will find the Capstone team’s deeper dives on Melissa’s list. To read Melissa’s original list, click here.


day 5



#5. “Compassion, sincerity and a real apology can go a hell of a long way.” – Melissa Agnes



Several years ago I was on vacation poolside. A little British girl walked by, and in the sweetest of accents, scolded her little brother. “You really ought to apologize. I really feel you’ve wronged me. In fact, you ought to apologize five times.” To which her brother, probably aged 4, said “I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorry. There, is that better?” And she said, “yes, much. Thank you.”

That kind of apology only works if you are a four-year-old British boy with a headful of blonde curls and wearing water wings.

For the rest of us, we need more. And, in addition to compassion, sincerity and an apology, an offer to make-good on the issue at hand is huge.

Let’s look at Target’s recent crisis, where 40 million customers credit card information was stolen. Within two days, Target’s CEO made a series of short videos thanking guests for their confidence in the retailer, giving advice on how to monitor for fraud, and offering up a two-day 10% discount – on one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season.


Click here for the clip.


His quick, sincere response, complete with an apology, and an offer to make it right, or at least make it better, for customers, was a smart move.

It’s likely that the Target lawyers were a little squeamish with an “I’m sorry.” Believe me, I know how nervous corporate counsel gets when PR people recommend an apology. That’s why compassion and sincerity (and the offer to make things right) are critical during a time of a crisis. You at least owe that much to your customers.


Kate Venne


Kate Venne is the Director of Public Relations at Capstone National Partners.
Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.



The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.

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