Cape Town – Individuals whose names appear in the leaked Gupta emails are not necessarily people involved in their dealings.
They could have just been candidates for certain positions, unaware that they are being sanctioned in Saxonwold.
Crisis management specialist Vincent Magwenya has some advice for individuals who find their names in the leaked #GuptaMail.
To the best of your ability, try to remember if your name could still appear or if you may have been accepted an invitation to Saxonwold. Write down what you remember of the events leading up to said invitation and what happened thereafter.
Consult a reputation management expert
A reputation management expert will help you to put together a response in the event journalists call you.
You will also get the benefit of giving the media a concise and consistent response. You will receive the added benefit of a press office function as you will direct all calls to the expert who will manage the media traffic.
Bear in mind that in the public’s eye, being 'unavailable for comment' is seen as an admission of guilt.
A quick media training session for various media interviews and platforms is vital in presenting an authentic story.
Monitoring and tracking what is reported after you have made or issued a statement will be crucial.
The reputation management expert will assist with monitoring and analysing media coverage.
Inform your key stakeholders
The Guptas have not been found guilty of any crime in a court of law, but the court of public opinion seems to have delivered a verdict against the family.
It is important that you protect your reputation from any form of suspicion, in order to maintain your career.
The response to be shared with the press must also be shared with key stakeholders before the media publishes any reports.
Key stakeholders may include your colleagues, employees, business associates and everybody that matters in your professional and personal life.
These people will be your ambassadors and defend your reputation if they are well informed and feel trusted.
Don’t fight the media
When journalists call you for clarification on your role or interaction with the family, do not be confrontational.
If you slam down the phone on the them, it will appear as if you have something to hide.
However, if you do, you’ll need a good lawyer in addition to a good reputation manager.
Also, don’t rush to get into a debate with the journalist. Rather note the call and the questions, provide your e-mail address and request that questions are sent to you in writing so you can think through them properly and respond.
Ask for a copy of all the e-mails that contain your name so that you have the necessary background to inform your response.
It’s likely that are you are a leader in your field, hence interest from the media, and possibly even the Guptas.
Use this opportunity to demonstrate that leadership with how you respond.
Timely, open, honest and well-crafted responses will underscore your leadership qualities.
* Vincent Magwenya is the founder and CEO of Conversations Media and Communications. He is also a crisis management specialist.
IOL adapted from a press release