Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of News International and best buddy of Rupert and James Murdoch has been arrested for the second time. Previously arrested last year, she is hitting the headlines again for all the wrong reasons. This time speculation is that the arrest concerns a charge of perverting the course of justice. Tough times ahead.
Despite endless protests from News International denying knowledge of widespread phone hacking and corruption of public officials, the arrests proceed and the parliamentary inquiry deepens. Public rage continues unabated.
In terms of crisis management, the hacking scandal was always a PR issue first and foremost. Prioritising legal concerns over PR has been the major blunder. As it happens things are looking bad on the legal front anyway.
The PR Verdict: “F” for a crisis management strategy that is failing. Is it possible that News International’s ordeal might have been shorter-lived if PR concerns had driven and shaped the crisis strategy, with legal concerns in second place?
Pubic and political pressures have a nasty habit of taking a crisis in surprising directions. What might have happened if News International had conceded wrongdoing and made amends at the outset? The closing of News of the World, millions paid out in damages, the BSKYB acquisition blocked and multiple staff arrests could hardly be described as a strategic success. It might have been wiser to take an earlier hit with a PR strategy that paid less attention to legal risk and prioritised reforming the company and closing the issue. No doubt Rebekah can tell us more in court.
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