When is a Pool Heater More than Just a Pool Heater?

When is a Pool Heater More than Just a Pool HeaterWhen it’s money from the Smithsonian’s budget diverted to cover personal expenses of recently-booted (OK, they say he "resigned") secretary (their handle for Executive Director) Lawrence Small. Here’s the whole story.

This burns me up. I was in DC last week for a conference (more on that later) and treated myself to a few hours on the mall. The Small story had just surfaced when I stepped into the Smithsonian Castle (the information center). Well let me tell you, that pool maintenance budget should have been diverted to bathroom maintenance. These were a horror.

Not only that, despite the fact that the story had made page one that morning in the Washington Post, there was no messaging, no signage, no nothing being put out at the Castle. I pity those two seniors volunteering at the information desk. They were deluged with questions about what’s next, and had no idea how to respond. Don’t forget Crisis Communications 101 — have a plan and share it with all who might have the necessity to respond on the crisis, including volunteers

On the other hand, I think the Smithsonian board and administration has done a stellar job of managing the crisis in appointing a content expert — Cristián Samper, a biologist who heads the National Museum of Natural History  — as acting secretary, and getting him out in front of the press pronto. This appointment turns the focus back to the incredibly rich and diverse content and research as the core of the Smithsonian. Nice board work. Strong crisis communications.

Your thoughts?

P.S. More crisis communciations tips here.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 9, 2007 in Branding and Messages, Crisis Communications, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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