The Prince Andrew saga has been carrying on for a long time.

When it first kicked off, I was invited onto BBC TV and Five Live to talk about the Royal brand and how it might be affected depending on his actions after ‘that interview’.

I suppose the thing is, especially as people are now being ‘called out’ left, right and centre for unacceptable behaviour, including our politicians every single day, the simple and small word, ‘sorry’, is used too often without meaning it.

Be a decent human

Saying you’re sorry is an important part of being a human. Owning up to something and on your own merit, making things right.

But when the word is flung about just to be heard to be saying it, and because it’s what people want to hear (albeit in a genuine way please), it has little impact.

Saying sorry needs to be genuine. It also needs to be backed up with action.

We’ve got enough to deal with

Right now, in the UK, we have a lot to deal with and there are many in leadership and high profile positions who should be saying sorry and who should be following up with action.

Saying “Sorry, but…” is also not cool. You’re then distracting from the apology as you’re making an excuse. Or, if you’re like Priti Patel, you say put the way someone feels onto them, and don’t take responsibility.

I look at the Prince Andrew situation, and whilst I have no proof of his alleged carrying on taking place, I look at the whole impact of what he’s done, simply by not telling the truth and not being deemed an honest character.

His actions (paying millions to someone he claims he didn’t have sexual encounters with), his lack of empathy (from the very start, trying to cover up and not even try to understand the victim’s situation) and lack of apology (because if he had apologised, it would be admitting to the crime), have brought shame on himself, his family unit, the Royal family and the whole of the UK. People are shocked that someone so prominent has carried on in such an unprofessional and unethical way.

Polpeo has also written a good post on ‘Saying sorry in a crisis‘. It’s worth a read.

Crisis communication

When we are in a situation dealing with a crisis, we have to question the facts. We have to know the truth and the whole truth. If we’re to defend and communicate with authority, then we need the truth to be authentic and we need to act quickly in order to manage the situation.

Drawing situations out and making things worse clearly points to poor communication, unethical practice and at the end of it all, failing reputation.

Remember, our job as communicators is as much about how we make people feel as it is about the end result. If we can make a genuine apology that people accept and then see your follow-up action, they’ll know you genuinely meant it. If you flounder about, don’t tell the truth and then truths are uncovered, then you won’t be floundering about for long…

Do the right thing.

If your company doesn’t have a crisis plan in place, then let’s talk. Every business need a plan in case a crisis hits, so it’s ready to act effectively and ethically. I’ve said it many times before, but crisis situations are often caused because of humans!

These recent examples further support this and should act as a call to get your house in order.