Why the Authorities in Baltimore Failed with their Crisis Communications

According to an NBC News article, the civil unrest that took place in Baltimore over the police killing of unarmed black man Freddie Gray needn’t have resulted in such a crisis.

Failing to act swiftly or decisively enough, Baltimore authorities also failed to adhere to the principles of honesty, candor and transparency and instead relied on a system of delay, deflection and denial.

As the article states:

In moments of crisis, there is a mantra that says we should engage in "maximum disclosure with minimum delay." This means sharing all that we are legally allowed to disclose in order to inform and reassure the public that everything is being done to resolve the issue, whether it's a plane crash, a data breach, or yet another apparent incident of officers bringing undue harm to a citizen.

The article compares this failure in Baltimore to the way Ferguson authorities handled the fallout from the killing of Michael Brown and also the way New York authorities failed to react decisively in the wake of the killing of Eric Garner at the hands of police.

The article then points to two examples, one in North Charleston, South Carolina and the other in Cleveland, Ohio, where police killed an unarmed African American male. In both cases authorities quickly took decisive action; firing the officers involved, charging them with murder and launching a broader investigation.

In both these cases authorities relayed the information to the public quickly, candidly and in a transparent manner, while in Baltimore authorities have failed to provide clear and timely answers, forcing a communications crisis that may lead to more unrest.

 

To read the original article, click the following link: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/essay-anatomy-communications-crisis-baltimore-n351371