Crisis Management - Can Detrick Recover From FPPC Controversy?

April 29, 2015 | How best to respond to a highly visible crisis?  That is a dilemma individuals and businesses from the heights...

April 29, 2015 |

How best to respond to a highly visible crisis? 

That is a dilemma individuals and businesses from the heights of President of the United States and multi-national corporations on down to a local elected officials, or small business owners can be confronted with at some point in time. 

How well a politician or an organization handles a crisis will determine future prospects. For a business it could mean the success or failure of a product or the whole organization, and for an elected official, it means whether or not they will retain office.  

In the business world, there are case studies in how to properly handle a crisis. The textbook case of effective crisis management was written by Johnson & Johnson's handling of the 1982 Tylenol deaths.

Conversely, politics is littered with the bodies of elected officials who have been chewed-up and spit-out after responding slowing or stonewalling, and then disingenuously addressing the crisis.

While large corporations and high-level elected officials have large staffs and political party machinations to sort things out, small businesses and lower level politicians don't have the same resources. Nonetheless, small business owners and local politicians can also take decisive actions to ward off long-term negative consequences if they so choose.

While Elk Grove residents anxiously await to see how one of its elected officials will respond to a brewing political controversy, the first step to managing a crisis situation is to employ quick, decisive, and honest communications to the public, says one communications and public relations specialist.    

After reviewing reports on the Steve Detrick-California Fair Political Practices case on this site and in Monday's Sacramento Bee, Gary Hanauer said if he were to advise the second-term Elk Grove Council Member, he would urge addressing the controversy immediately. 

"Don't hold back, and don't wait for something to die down of its own accord," Hanauer said. "Because until you take steps to address it, it can keep building or festering."

Noting the recent cases involving NBC News Anchor Brian Williams and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton where responses to their respective controversies were slow and ham-handed, Hanauer stressed the importance of responding to a crisis quickly and with sincerity. 

"Politicians need to be aware that we live now in the age of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle," he said. "The basic message, you can't run and hide, you can't sweep your problems under the carpet. Instead, you need to own up to your mistakes, clean up your house and move forward."

As for a remedy, Hanauer said someone in a situation like Detrick should publicly acknowledge an error if they made one, and to be open to constituent criticism. Noting politicians' growing use of social media, Hanauer said that they should not, for example, delete criticisms on their Facebook page.

"No matter what happens with the FPPC, in politics perception is 100-percent of the game," he said. "Politicians are no different than anyone else; everyone makes mistakes."

The key, Hanauer said, is the person must own up to the mistake and make a public announcement that steps are being taken to rectify the situation.

"If possible, announce how you are moving forward to take care of the problem," he added.

Gary Hanauer is a San Leandro-based publicist with over 28 years of public relations experience and has represented a wide variety of clients including politicians.



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Lance that sucker! said...

Yeah, not so much. Detrick isn't about to own up to anything. The guilty never do. He's just another pus-filled lesion on the arse of this city.

Anonymous said...

And all we get is silence from the Detrick camp. Where is Detrick? Perhaps too fat and lazy from his Cap to Cap gala to address the issues back home? What an arrogant SOB. If innocent, why isn't he singing his praises from the highest mountain top? The silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...


Elk Grove is going to become a steaming dumpster fire of a valley arm pit.

Who cares if we are rapidly running out of water.

Just keep on grading the land and throw up the sticks and stucco.

By the developers, of the developers and FOR the developers.

Anonymous said...

As I see it, we have a tarnished city council and they have some bridges to mend with the people. None of us are perfect, but when you're in the public eye, it's easy to make some missteps. Residents demanding more government accountability, can make a difference.

Mr. Detrick is most likely seeking legal advice on how to handle the situation. It's not unusual for small time politicians to get caught up in the power and sometimes take advise from some who might not have their best interests at heart. That's a lesson that can sometimes be very costly for the politician as well as the city. Behind closed door agreements may not be as confidential as they may's a small community. Might be a lesson to our two new councilmembers. Do your own research and make us proud!

Anonymous said...

Detrick needs to admit he lied, reimburse his campaign the entire amount, and apologize to only not his contributors but to the people of Elk Grove. The FPPC also needs to hold him up as an example that the agency will not tolerate lying politicians to make fools out of them.

Anonymous said...

Our city leaders have established patterns of not owing up to their responsibilities, not repaying their debts to anyone or to society is one example of it. They are ethically in the PIT. They brought shame to our fair city. We are being shortchanged by their conducts.

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Lest I be called a party pooper, Mr. Detrick might well look to other politicians who survived scandals and came out in one case at least, smelling like a rose. Do the names Mark Sanford or William Jefferson Clinton ring a bell?

Maybe Mr. Detrick is out hiking on the city's trail network ala Sanford.

Lynn said...

The intoxication of power can lead to a big downfall.
This entire situation is sad...however really how honest are any of our politicans? If they spoke the truth would they be re-elected? Our leaders and political parties developed a culture of blame everyone else, accept no responsibility, and no real solutions are necessary.

We all are responsible for what is happening. How? remember we elect our leaders.

Big signs, great sound bites and promises for the moment seem to win big.

Until we get pass "this is how it is" etc....etc...apathy......CAN WE EVER EXPECT BETTER??

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is becoming a big joke in this area.

Mistake My Arse said...

Anon at 09:09

Detrick did not make a “mistake” here. A mistake was he forgot to pay a bill on time and thought he did. Detrick signed a legal stipulation that said he “already paid the money back.” Where is the mistake? Either he did or he didn’t. IMO, this was a deliberate attempt to deceive the FPPC in order to garner a lesser penalty. IMO, what he did here is make false statements of material facts, had direct knowledge that his statements were untrue at the time they were made. That is the one of the definitions of FRAUD!

Anonymous said...

Since Cap to Cap, Detrick has been at a water skiing competition in Acapulco.

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove Thriving!

Hey, its Grow Time!

Destination City!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is no better quote that answers this topic than this one...

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

Theodore Roosevelt

Anonymous said...

Just reading this....I would imagine there will be a lot of inventing or twisting of facts by Mr. Detrick until we won't even recognize the story.

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