CEO Crisis Communications – surely lessons need to be learnt


This week an AFR article said that the CEO of Optus, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin was “labelled ‘unavailable’, ‘defensive’, ‘out of touch’ and ‘just not good enough'”; how the company communicated with its customers and the government during a day-long network blackout this week has been met with only criticism”.

And in this article that “a Canberra press gallery reporter breaks the story of the breach” and “reveals details that Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin doesn’t in her subsequent press conference. From the first moments of the crisis, the company had already lost control”.

And this….

“When Bayer Rosmarin eventually fronted the media as school children were heading to recess, she rolled out some obfuscatory waffle about the outage being too hard to explain, despite the media unpacking the likely cause”.

And like last year, when Optus had a data breach, there was no apology to customers as the first thing that came out of the mouths of the company spokespeople, including Bayer Rosmarin.

Surely since last year the company and their spokespeople have reviewed their crisis communications plan and done some crisis media spokesperson training.

But it doesn’t appear that way and the impression the company gave this time around was once again lacking in genuine concern for the primary stakeholder – the customer base. It appears they also forgot about the power of the government as a key and influential stakeholder. Again, the government attacked Optus ferociously and publicly.

Were there no lessons learnt from last year?

Here are four primary tips:

  1. Have a good crisis communication plan that analyses the main stakeholders and know what they want and/or need to hear.
  2. Show care and concern quickly to the people who matter the most and who are significantly and adversely affected – like customers.
  3. Have regular media crisis training so you appear in control – impression is everything to shape opinions and attitudes.
  4. Be fast communicating – don’t hide.

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