Lessons from Brian Williams on how to make a sincere apology.
By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar
When are people going to learn, y’all cannot get away with anything these days!
NBC news anchor Brian Williams got a taste of this after years of shopping around his story of being shot down in a helicopter in Iraq. It wasn’t until a group of veterans, who were actually on that helicopter, called BS on his story. Williams blamed it on the “fog of memory”. NBC just handed him a 6 month suspension.
Now people are questioning his full body of work. Including his coverage of Hurricane Katrina where one health official is now challenging William’s claim that he contracted dysentery while reporting on the aftermath. (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up).
Words like inexcusable, jeopardized trust, credibility badly damaged are being thrown around. Really? I’m not excusing his actions, but should Williams be buried for one mistake? Haven’t we all misspoken or made rounding errors?
The real problem is Williams has been turned into a pariah because his apology sucked: he made lame excuses. He should have said I’m sorry, I lied and I won’t do that again. Period. The public accepted Hugh Grant and David Letterman’s apologies, proving the masses are a forgiving bunch (unlike Jian Ghomeshi who completely blew it. And Bill Cosby…well, there’s no hope for him now no matter what the truth).
The lesson: if your brand messes up, don’t make excuses because at the end of the day it’s more about the apology than the event itself. Just own up to it with sincerity and conviction and move on.
We think if Brian comes clean, by the time his 6-month suspension is up the public will have moved on and he’ll come back with his credibility intact.