Multilingual Business Communication

November 2, 2008

How Tom Boonen defused a crisis

Filed under: business communication, crisis communication, Nina Vermaesen — Tags: , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:37 pm

 naamloos-boon11

 When Belgium’s favourite cyclist Tom Boonen was busted for the use of cocaine last summer – in the middle of the cycling season nonetheless – the entire country was in a state of uproar. Therefore it was of vital importance that Tom Boonen and his entourage held a press conference if they wanted to defuse the crisis. How you talk to the press in such a situation is of major importance. More than anything effective crisis control would want to prevent a crisis. But if you fail to prevent a crisis – as is the case here – crisis communication is necessary to minimise the potential negative outcome or even to turn it into something positive.

Given the circumstances Boonen  did a great job. In fact, his ready-made announcement was completely in line with the rules of good crisis communication:

 

1.      “Admit the problem”: Boonen was wise enough to admit his mistake instead of denying that he had taken drugs. Fortis, on the other hand, recently illustrated the most striking example of bad crisis communication when they kept on denying that they were having problems.

2.      “Adjust your body language”: by reading out his text with downcast eyes, his body language screamed that he had done something wrong and had to be punished for it. The popular cyclist usually comes across as someone triumphant and flamboyant, but his usual bravura – which he still had when he was criticised for speeding – was now completely gone.

3.      “Do not blame others”: in a crisis situation, it is tempting to put the blame on somebody else, but Boonen did the right thing by bearing the responsibility.

4.      “Do not isolate yourself and reach out”: Tom Boonen did not only draw his family and team into this by saying that they stand by him, he also reached out to his supporters. And again, he did so in a modest way. He did not set a date or stipulate conditions for his return. Instead, he put his fate in the hands of his supporters and in a way asked them for help and support.

 

If you would like to know more, go to www.whyte.be. Whyte Corporate Affairs is a Belgian company with expertise in crisis communication. They even have a crisis hotline (+32 16 271 370)!

 

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1 Comment »

  1. I think you have done a great job finding a good topic. This is perfectly suited to this blog and the category crisis communication.

    When Belgium’s favourite cyclist Tom Boonen was busted for the use of cocaine last summer – in the middle of the cycling season nonetheless – the entire country was in a state of uproar. Therefore it was of vital importance that Tom Boonen and his entourage held a press conference if they wanted to defuse the crisis. How you talk to the press in such a situation is of major importance. More than anything effective crisis control would want to prevent a crisis. But if you fail to prevent a crisis – as is the case here – crisis communication is necessary to minimise the potential negative outcome or even to turn it into something positive. This first paragraph is perhaps a bit too didactic to suit the blogging style

    Given the circumstances Boonen did a great job. In fact, his ready-made announcement was completely in line with the rules of good crisis communication:

    1. “Admit the problem”: Boonen was wise enough to admit his mistake instead of denying that he had taken drugs. Fortis, on the other hand, recently illustrated the most striking example of bad crisis communication when they kept on denying that they were having problems.

    2. “Adjust your body language”: by reading out his text with downcast eyes, his body language screamed that he had done something wrong and had to be punished for it. The popular cyclist usually comes across as someone triumphant and flamboyant, but his usual bravura – which he still had when he was criticised for speeding – was now completely gone.

    3. “Do not blame others”: in a crisis situation, it is tempting to put the blame on somebody else, but Boonen did the right thing by bearing the responsibility.

    4. “Do not isolate yourself and reach out”: Tom Boonen did not only draw his family and team into this by saying that they stand by him, he also reached out to his supporters. And again, he did so in a modest way. He did not set a date or stipulate conditions for his return. Instead, he put his fate in the hands of his supporters and in a way asked them for help and support.

    If you would like to know more, go to http://www.whyte.be. Whyte Corporate Affairs is a Belgian company with expertise in crisis communication. They even have a crisis hotline (+32 16 271 370)!

    layout: try to limit your white space, as it makes for a disruptive text. Try to include the url in your text, using hyperlinks. It would also have been a good idea to include a video showing the press conference.

    Marilyn Michels

    Comment by meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie — November 16, 2008 @ 1:13 pm


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