Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
Three things we crisis managers learn early on is the mantra: Tell It All, Tell It Early, Tell It Yourself, which has been repeated so often it’s almost a cliché, but it works!
When a crisis rears its ugly head, like the humongous one in China now spreading its deadly wings worldwide, it’s still good advice applicable in dealing with the biggest crisis to rock the world since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
China’s delayed reaction to the coronavirus outbreak appears to have sewn deep concerns, including among the Chinese people, that the lack of a swift governmental response was almost Chernobylic, to say the least.
Sorry Xi Jinping, if this virus becomes a true global pandemic, the actions by Chinese leaders, of which you’re top dog, will come under fire as the initial slow response could have been much faster, more decisive as it has now become.
Xi Jinping, as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, president of the People’s Republic of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, you will have to bear the brunt of the criticism although now China seems to be much more forceful in taking action and there’s evidence the country might be gaining the upper hand, both in controlling the spread of the virus and in reporting the facts.
President Xi Jinping, as the first general secretary born after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, who has introduced far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to impose internal unity, you must now meet the greatest test of your leadership skills and legacy.
So here’s my advice to you, Mr. President and general secretary.
I would like to see you personally leading comprehensive daily news conferences reporting the situation exactly as you learn the facts and do it with yourself very much appearing to be in charge of the situation.
Crises are a time when we most need to see leaders in action, taking charge like the way our president swiftly eliminated that Iranian general plotting to kill Americans.
You also to need to meet with international journalists to give them the latest news and updates on your measures to stop the virus from spreading.
President Xi Jinping, you need to open all communications channels and report your nation’s progress regularly in this all-important battle to kill this virus.
The whole world is watching and rooting for you to stop it dead in its tracks!
Yes, wear the mask to protect yourself, but remove all masks from communications about your progress in controlling and defeating the deadly coronavirus.
About the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group. Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78. His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the Pressident of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.