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Sky's Apology Fail

30th Mar 17

By Geoffrey Stackhouse Managing Director Clarity Solutions

After Mark Latham's bile trifecta this week, Sky had no option but to fire him. Responding to threatened legal action they've issued an apology that breaks every rule and doesn't come across as remotely genuine - so has it stopped the brand damage?

You can watch the Sky apology here in it's full glory but to give you a taste:

"Sky News acknowledges that it broadcast certain statements by Mark Latham about Wendy Harmer. Sky News acknowledges that these statements falsely imputed Ms Harmer’s media career of nearly four decades has been a failure and that she only secured her current employment with the ABC because she is a female with a disability. Sky News rejects these comments in their entirety and apologies unreservedly to Ms Harmer." 

Horrible isn't it.  Here's where they went wrong:

Show it matters 
Not only was Sky's apology delivered by a news reader instead of a senior Sky executive, it was read with the most wooden delivery I've ever seen.  Your apology has to be credible - and that means it must come from the right person and be expressed with lashings of authentic empathy otherwise it's meaningless.

I'm also stunned that they don't refer to their high standards and ethics, the actions they have they have taken to fix the problem (firing him) or why we should trust them to ensure this doesn't happen again. Because it's not not there I'm assuming we can expect a lot more of the same anytime we expose our selves to their product.

Use simple language and avoid legal jargon
The stiff and formal construction of the apology was bizarre. Both statements were almost identical and read like evidence at a war crimes tribunal. Use simple conversational language if you want to get your message across - Sky's language sounds and feels like a grudging disclaimer. 

Own the offence, but don't repeat it
This is a completely empty apology - Sky is apologising for broadcasting Mr Latham's statements, but not for the offence they caused so they don't own it. The fact that they repeat Mr Latham's claims reinforces the original ideas that were expressed and it feels like a passive aggressive attack on the victims, using the last line to cover their butts. 

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Want to know more about how and when to apologise, or looking to hone your crisis plan? Check out our crisis training programs or to find out how we can help - email me.