Kudos to Radio Shack’s board of directors for acting quickly to boot CEO David J. Edmondson after he was caught lying about his academic credentials. The board executive chairman, Leonard H. Roberts, hit the nail on the head when he said the move was needed to safeguard Radio Shack’s corporate reputation and image.
But, where were the corporate communications people when the crisis escalated and CEO Edmondson initially refused to resign? Story after story quoted "corporate spokespeople as only volunteering a meek "no comment." This behavior leads me to believe the lawyers were calling the shots during the crisis. Otherwise, why would any corporate communicator worth his or her salt mumble a worthless phrase like "no comment"? Crisis management 101 dictates that, even if a company has nothing to say as a crisis unfolds, it communicates caring and concern to its constituents and promises to share information when it becomes available. Except that is when the lawyers, who never want to communicate anything, get involved.
So, hats off to Radio Shack’s board. I’d give them an A-plus for decisiveness and crisis containment. As for the corporate communications department, let’s give them a C-minus. I’d suggest they use this incident as a case study to educate their peers in legal that "no comment" can often be perceived as evasiveness on the part of the organization. For a company that sells communications equipment, "no comment" statements simply aren’t acceptable ways to communicate during a crisis.
An article in today’s Star-Telegram (the paper that uncovered Edmondson’s lies) discusses Radio Shack, blogs and crisis communications. Blogs have been flooded with negative “chat,” and expressed frustrations with Radio Shack’s response. Yet Radio Shack’s Chief Communications Officer declined comment! She said “I’m not going to participate in the story,” and the CEO said he doesn’t know of any corporate strategy at to respond to negative Web postings, but wondered aloud whether it might make sense. Gee I wonder.
Link to full article: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/business/13932254.htm