If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Instead, state officials last week dug deeper.
Word broke that they had decided to ship a 6-year-old Oregon foster child — a U.S. citizen whom we identified by the pseudonym of “Susana” — to Mexico to live with her father, an Oregon prison parolee. That decision quickly evolved into a public debate, one in which officials deserve an F for their communication skills.
The Oregon Department of Human Services is not unique in mishandling a communications crisis. Few organizations are prepared, as a crisis requires different skills — and more internal clout — than day-to-day public relations.
A communications crisis can happen to any organization — an employee scandal, a food-borne illness that affects customers, a product defect, the closure of a revered program, a financial downturn or widespread layoffs.