The day the poo literally hit the fan for one company


I’ve been involved in issues and crisis management for decades and have witnessed some significant crises where the poo has well and truly hit the fan.

But the expression was taken to new heights this week when an executive of an ASX-listed company was bust defecating in a neighbour’s driveway.

It turns out he was a serial offender and had been practising his unusual toilet habits in the same driveway three times a week for over a year. He was only caught when a trap was set to photograph the serial offender.

One of the most interesting parts of an executive issues or crisis planning session is when we get to ask the question: “What is the most outlandish, ridiculous issue or crisis you think could affect your organisation?”

I can assure you we’ve had some beauts but the curious thing is the reaction of others in the room to some of the more left field suggestions. They are typically followed by comments such as: “That will never happen to us!” or “I don’t know how you can even think that!” or “C’mon Ben that’s outrageous!” Other times it will merely be that look between colleagues – you know the one – the look that says: “Yeah right, why are we even bothering to talk about this. What a waste of time.”

So imagine sitting in an issues planning session at which an executive team member suggested one of their own would be caught and photographed defecating in a suburban street. And imagine further the message house the communications team would prepare for such a scenario. After all how do you mop up the pieces after a breaking story like that?

Unfortunately, we know from regular research of executive leaders into reputation via our report Reputation Reality: Trans-Tasman perspectives on reputation and risk, while almost 9 in 10 executives say their organisations are proactive in protecting their reputations, less than 50 per cent are testing their crisis plans annually.

The point to this whole sorry mess is to prepare for all possibilities – OK maybe this one was a bit of a stretch – but still it pays to prepare and have your team crisis ready for any eventuality.