Collateral damage from Jian Ghomeshi

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

There’s plenty of collateral damage from Jian Ghomeshi — an object lesson in crisis communications gone wrong…

When I coach clients on how to prepare for crisis communications, I have one key message for them. It’s something my mother told me when I was a kid: Don’t guess.

This may seem simple and straightforward but usually, it’s not. Here’s a recent example: Two high-ranking CBC executives — Chris Boyce, the executive director of CBC Radio, and Todd Spencer, its executive director of human resources and industrial relations — who were involved with investigations of  Jian Ghomeshi [pictured above] have been put on indefinite leave of absence.

Ghomeshi, as you will recall, is a former radio host who’s now facing seven criminal charges stemming from alleged incidents involving three women. I’ve written before about Ghomeshi. But today I want to focus on Chris Boyce, who has suffered what appears to be collateral damage.

Here’s why: In a detailed interview with the Fifth Estate — ironically, a CBC program — Boyce said that his team had interviewed “a cross-section of people who had worked at Q [the show Ghomeshi hosted],” but turned up nothing of significance. The Fifth Estate report, however, charged that none of the 16 staffers who worked on the program last summer had been contacted.

Both of these claims cannot be true. Either the staffers were interviewed or they were not. I’m inclined to believe the Fifth Estate. Why would staffers lie about whether or not they had been interviewed? It just doesn’t make sense.

Thus, either Boyce was given the wrong information or was guessing. And I suspect that is why he was placed on a leave of absence.

People dealing with crisis communications need to be exquisitely careful in whatever statements they make. They shouldn’t be afraid to say: “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure about that,” or “I’ll have to get back to you later.”

This is much better than getting it wrong. Get it wrong and you could be put on leave, or worse.

The CBC is my favourite radio station, by far. This sorry mess is doing them no favours.

Scroll to Top