From the Communicating with the Public and the Media Workshop: The Importance of Honesty (Part Three of Three)
“It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up.”
Too many presidents (and too many business leaders) have discovered this warning too late.
The public will forgive an organization’s honest mistakes (note the word “honest”), but if the public feels misled, deceived, or lied to, they’ll never trust that organization again.
The truth is much like Queequeg’s coffin: it bursts to the surface. The truth bursts forth despite an organization’s efforts to manipulate or hide it (too many people involved, too many suspicious minds, too many pointed inquiries). So when the truth does burst forth, don't you want to be the one offering it?
Now: Is there a difference between full disclosure (you revealing everything) and information management (you controlling the message)? Sure there is. One is stupidity; the other is caution. If the media ask too much, you can always respond, “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question.” (Our thanks to Carra Schiff of Wells Fargo Bank for the thought behind this comment.)
This tip is the final tip of a three-part series on honesty in the workplace. Let us know your thoughts, feedback, and frustrations. We're happy to serve you.