It's bad enough to have one element to deal with in a crisis: a local politician emails a picture of nude women to his "friends" and it ends up in a reporter's inbox. That could stand alone. But don't stop there. Add another layer (from the ctpost.com): "An accompanying message encourages woman to walk outside naked because it's a sin for Muslim men to see unrelated women nude. It says the effort would weed out neighborhood terrorists, and 'patriotic men' should watch." Here we go.
Turns out the picture and message are part of a promotion for "Walk Naked for America Day." This has got to be the most bizarre event in the name of patriotism I've ever seen. Maplewood, Minnesota city councilman Bob Cardinal says he "inadvertently" emailed the photo and message with "Muslim" in the subject line to a St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Thursday evening.
One of these layers would be enough, but in crisis, each layer compounds the first and you end up with a viral mess. Taking a lesson from Anthony Weiner, here are three tips that will help, but not fix, the situation:
1. Come clean, no excuses. Cardinal already violated this first principle by claiming that he accidentally emailed the reporter and that he didn't agree with the content of the message--he just found it shocking. Really? Admit your failure quickly. People don't believe you are innocent--look what you did.
2. Apologize fast, no excuses. Whether you agree or not, you have offended a number of people groups with this unfortunate click of the mouse. Make a public statement of heartfelt apology and do it quickly. Be contrite and don't make any excuses--just apologize. Think poorly of yourself--this might help your mindset.
3. Shut up and listen. Don't feed the trolls. You are going to be crucified. So be it. Let people vent, let people call you names, you deserve it. Learn your lesson and move on. Brainstorm legitimate questions you may be asked by employers, media, or organizations, and craft some humble replies that take you back to #1. No excuses, just 'fess up and take your medicine.
There is no getting away from a crisis of this magnitude. Cardinal only took office in November, but I am thinking his tenure might be at an end. What's your take?