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KATHERINE KEATING, THE PRINCE, & JEFFREY EPSTEIN, CRISIS COMMUNICTIONS

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It’s been a few weeks now the revelation that our own former Prime Minister’s daughter, Katherine Keating, was the latest somebody to be implicated in the criminal case of serial Paedophile Jeff Epstein.

We don’t fully know the details, with the only news from a video purportedly showing Katherine leaving his house and waving goodbye to none-other than, Prince Andrew. However, that didn’t stop British and Australian media from pouncing, as would be expected.

Working in crisis management, my thoughts immediately raced to Katherine, and what her movements would be following the news breaking.

Having dealt in scenarios of significantly smaller public magnitude, but no less as severe to the individual, or reputation of a company I expected Ms Keating would take the front foot and own the situation.

In crisis management, there are five stages; The crisis hits, escalation, the climax, the aftermath, and finally the enduring legacy. I always advise my clients to lay low until we know the facts, but then pounce when ready and own the narrative. When the crisis hits, you do not want to be on the back foot with the media setting the tone of your story in the public realm. One week on though, and we are still hearing crickets. Not only from Katherine, but those associated with her, including friends, family, and businesses.

From an outsider looking in, Katherine seems to be waiting this one out. I’m sure, at the helm is a much more expensive and fancier crisis manager. However, I can’t help but question this strategy. This is not just any old story. We have a prince of England, several on-record sexual assault survivors spanning from New York to Sydney, a plethora of wealthy and elite individuals across the same range, and a suspicious suicide of the main protagonist. People will be following this story, right through to conclusion. It isn’t going away. This story is now in the escalation stage, where we are witnessing a frenzied media and commentariat filling in the holes through hyperbole and innuendo.

Katherine’s window of opportunity is slowly closing. It doesn’t matter what is fair, or even true. In these situations, the publics perspective can be easily moulded by just a handful of commentators. A negative perception issue that starts small can grow out of control within minutes in today’s fast paced media landscape.

In Katherines case, it has now been over a week, and this scandal is only growing bigger with prosecutors in New York reportedly continuing their investigations now to Epstein’s complicit accomplices. Everyone in crisis management will tell you, silence is fatal, not honourable. I look forward to watching this story unfold, but more so to see how our past First Daughter’s grappling of her brand takes shape.

I urge my clients to ensure their crisis management plan is up to date and practiced at least once a year. When giving presentations on crisis management I aske for those to raise their hand if they have a plan, and a number of hands go up, I then ask has it been revised in the past twelve months and more than half the hands go down, and finally there is usually only one hand raised when I asked who has practiced their plan and ensured staff are aware of the plan and their responsibilities.

A crisis can hit at any time and its impact can be monumental.

I’d like to hear some of your crisis stories and what you would have done differently in hindsight.

Image Source/ Credit Daily Mail

Suzanne Jones