In politics, as in life, most crises are self-generated by ourselves. We are our worst enemy. Verbal excesses, unfortunate comments, pressure, harassment… Most people are fully aware of when they have acted badly. Faced with this situation, we have two ways of proceeding: think that our action will not transcend public light and act as if nothing had happened or recognize it quickly and act accordingly.
The second option is usually always better than the first. It guarantees you to take the initiative and avoid drifting when the storm arrives. Also, a quick apology often has soothing effects and minimizes further damage. As the father of one of the victims of the Alvia accident said, which will be 9 years from now: “If they ask me for an apology, I’ll run out of arguments.” The victims of any situation what they need most at first is an apology, which is what they almost never receive.
Junts deputy Francesc de Dalmases, as published by this newspaper and digital was born, After an interview with the President of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, on the TV3 program Faqs, he grabbed a journalist by the arm, closed her in an office and rebuked her, reproaching her for the fact that the journalists had asked “inappropriate” questions.
When you agree to go to a television set and you are immersed in a delicate situation like Laura Borràs, it is much better to spend time preparing a good argument, with all those questions that you would like your political rival to be asked if they were in the same place than you And rehearse how to respond to the most complicated ones and, above all, how to control emotions if the interview takes a path that is not the one we want. In other words, focus on doing our job to the best of our ability and letting journalists do theirs, which is to ask questions, whether the interlocutors like it or not. His job, after all, is not or should not be to give massages but to question power.
These types of situations have always happened. And they are carried out by people who have a very particular way of understanding power, an excessive ego and fear of knowing the truth. Coach José Mourinho also did it in his day with the journalist Antón Meana. And also, like Dalmases, he acted surrounded by his people, leaving the journalist alone. Neither Dalmases nor Mourinho were stopped by any of his collaborators.
Once the information that put him on the target came to light, Dalmases and Junts continued with the manual of what not to do in a crisis situation. It is very common in these cases to try to minimize it, remove iron while waiting for the balloon to puncture. “What happened is a professional discussion between the president’s team and the program. In no case was there any aggressive behavior ”, they verbalized from Junts. But they were not satisfied with minimizing, as has been known today, they went one step further. Laura Borrás pressured the journalist to publicly exonerate Dalmases.
But in crises like this, the balloon never bursts, but inflates at full speed. Apart from the two media that had published the news, the rest also echoed it, the parties began to give their opinion and Twitter was fuming. We already have the fire at full throttle. The pressure is getting more and more intense. Dalmases does this Tweet apologizing.
“I apologize to anyone who may have been offended” would not be the most appropriate phrase to apologize. Besides the public apology, the most important is always the private apology. It may have already been done, I don’t know. If so, it would have been good to add it to the tweet. In crisis communication, the order of the factors does alter the product. What would have happened if the following Monday Dalmases had apologized to the journalist and the program team?
The problem is that we only make a move when they put us in the crosshairs. And then we act reactively, we don’t have the initiative and we lose the story. The crisis is getting longer and is more difficult to cope with. The Dalmases case has been on the political and media agenda for four days. On Thursday he announced that he was resigning “temporarily” as a spokesman on the CCMA commission, the body that manages the public media, and Junts announced that it will open an information file on him.
The crisis continues and the effects it may have are not over yet. Boris Johnson took a heavy toll on following a very similar system in the Downing Street party crisis during the pandemic. We already know the end of it.
When we assume the mistake before, the more options we have to avoid greater evils. In a crisis, it’s not just what happens that matters, but how we manage what happens. Good management can keep us afloat and bad management can end up sinking us. The question is why, if history shows that acting late and badly does not work, is this path still chosen?