Unlike Shel Holtz, I am not a fan of Rachel Maddow, nor any of the entertainers parading as commentators on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. So I didn’t catch her diatribe on her show on MSNBC on August 3 in which she throughly excoriated those of us in the crisis communication business. I haven’t quite got the stomach to watch the show in question so I’ll trust Shel Holtz’s summary of some her descriptions of us: ““disgusting,” “mercenary,” “open sewer,” and (my favorite) “the most morally repellant, indefensible thing out of American corporate culture,” words you used during a segment on your Aug. 3 report.”
I’m bringing this to your attention not to help Rachel gain ratings, but to encourage you to read Shel Holtz’s defense of the profession. In it, he eloquently (but with evident sadness and disappointment given his appreciation for Maddow) defends the crisis communication profession and, more importantly, gives some compelling and important examples of the high value that crisis communication can deliver when done right. Especially appreciated is the emphasis on how good crisis communication professionals can help companies take the right action in a crisis, often in contradiction to the action advised by attorneys whose sights are set on protecting the company’s legal position. Right on, Shel!
I have to tell you though, I was reading through this article on PR Daily when I unsuspectingly came across some very high praise from Shel. So much appreciated, but I was already determined to bring this article to your attention before seeing that and I almost changed my mind thinking that it would now be seen as self-serving. But, self-serving or not, here it is anyway.
As for my opinion about Rachel Maddow, that was set some time ago when I commented on her vicious treatment of ExxonMobil in the Yellowstone River spill. Certainly she plays to a specific audience, most of which I’m guessing (unlike Shel) participate in her obvious animosity toward big business. She and her ilk are what make building public trust in this media environment so difficult. Given her animosity toward business, it’s not surprising that she so dislikes those of us who try to help organizations do the right thing and help them communicate well.