Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lacierda's classic "Where's the crisis?" response

What's so wrong with what presidential spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda said yesterday about the problems being encountered by the Maynilad Water company?

When asked what he thinks about the water shortage being experienced by people living in more than 100 barangays under the concession area of Maynilad water, Lacierda burst out this phrase: " Where is the crisis?"

Lacierda is actually correct--there is no water crisis. There is a water shortage. But the way he delivered his response is simply wrong--in a strategic communications way.

His response was devoid of sympathy to the thousands of people now living every single day without water. For those affected, there is a crisis. Some would even argue that it is not merely a crisis, but a calamity, a catastrophe.

Now, some government officials are trying to exploit this by saying that barangay officials and even President Aquino could declare these areas under a state of calamity. And you know why these officials want this? Because they can actually get money out of this artificial water shortage.

Funds are immediately disbursed without any legislation in areas declared under a State of Calamity. The question really is--will a declaration even solve the water shortage? No. It's just as empty as the people's water pail.

It's strange though why Lacierda even started his response by questioning somebody's point of view. I mean, so what if some people view this as a "crisis" and some as simple as a "shortage"?

Lacierda's ideal response would have been:

" We sympathize with the people now suffering from this water shortage and rest assured that government is on top of the situation. The President is now meeting with his officials on the proper response to this shortage. We believe that we need to meet with officials of Maynila Water so that, together, we can finally solve this problem. It would take time but rest assured that the President has mobilized local government units to provide their constituencies contingency measures like water delivery services."

This is better than a outburst of "where's the crisis?"

I recommend Lacierda to buy my book, " The Black Book on Crisis Management: How to Diffuse a PR Crisis in Just 3 Days". For electronic copies of this book, email me at mangubat.patricio@gmail.com. The book is just US$ 25/copy.