Dior hires crisis management experts . . . too late

The fallout following anti-semitic remarks by Dior designer John Galliano was entirely predictable. Galliano departed with scarcely a whimper and Dior itself quickly distanced itself from his rabid views.

But was the crisis itself equally predictable? And could it have been prevented? And why did Dior apparently have to hire PR crisis management experts only AFTER the crisis had struck? According to The Hollywood Reporter Dior hired crisis consultant firm Kekst to “help mitigate the damage” to fashion house’s reputation.

The details of what happened behind the scenes with Galliano will probably never be made public, but the case is a stark reminder of the need for properly planned issue management and crisis prevention, especially for a high profile brand which is so vulnerable to public sentiment.

Dior did all the right things in response, and Galliano was persuaded to issue an abject apology. But was his behaviour truly “unexpected.”

Research around the world shows that most “sudden crises” are in fact preceded by warning signs which could have and should have been acted upon.

In some cases, especially of individual misdemeanour, organizations deliberately  turn a blind eye to the views and actions of highly talented people which would not be tolerated in “ordinary employees.”   The case of Charlie Sheen stands out as obvious example (though he is simply the latest Hollywood star whose misbehaviour was “permitted” for far too long)

Over protecting highly profitable talent is very understandable – whether it’s misbehaving Hollywood stars or star designers or business executives who deliver massive profits and rapidly increasing share price while harbouring personal behaviour which puts the organization at risk.

But from the point of view of issue and crisis management the lesson is clear.  Individual misbehaviour can shred reputation and profits, and organizations must put effective crisis prevention plans in place long before it all turns into tabloid headlines.

Note: The Hollywood Reporter later issued a correction, saying that Keskt had been working for Dior prior to the Galliano incident. My views on the organizational risks of individual misbehaviour stand.

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About managingoutcomes

Issue and crisis management expert
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One Response to Dior hires crisis management experts . . . too late

  1. philippq says:

    I agree in various ways with your statements. Well, crisis prevention plans are as important as issues management to intervene in any kind of crises and to minimize the reputational damage. But make an assumption: What is the probability that your crisis will occur? A crisis management team is always as good as its creativity and sensibility concerning potential risks. Was Galliano’s behaviour “unexpected”? Perhaps there was some indication that could have rung the alarm bells at Dior. Maybe he was a sad man willing to say anything to hurt others as a desperate cry for help, maybe there was no alarm signal that would have lead Dior to offer its stardesigner professional help and to react in the prephase of the crisis. As you’ve said the details of what happened behind the scenes with Galliano will probably never be made public.
    However, the crisis management team of Dior did its job well and put forth Sidney Toledano as the right spokesperson that presented, explained, and defended the company’s position in an adequate way.

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