Is it unreasonable for me to want to start a #MeToo #PR training to help people respond when they have accused someone or been accused of sexual harassment? Or, as more related to my profession, training for leaders who have to manage through a harassment #crisis?
I ask because a public figure that I used to work with made a crass joke about sexual abuse online and has spent the past few days apologizing for it. And now his career will take a hit and he will be sent to mandatory training. Even if not accused, or involved in an accusation in any way, the comments of some are appalling. The Kavanaugh hearing and the #TalkingAboutTimesUp movement leading every news cycle makes this a communications issue, not just a harassment issues. No, I am not intending to be political (I don’t care who you vote for, just vote) and no, I am not trying to PR-up rapists. (Although many accused men could save themselves a lot of the backlash and rage if they learned how to communicate better post-revelation.)
I am just wondering why really smart, talented, experienced people do not understand how to thoughtfully discuss this topic. Maybe we roll it into crisis training? I do not see a lot of PR people discussing it, but I sure hope it is on the radar when they are counselling their clients.
This is why I keep talking about Me Too Public Relations Training. Not because I want to gloss over what harassment may or may not have happened, but because we need an understanding of how to talk about these issues in public, even if we are simply observers and online critics.
Leaders need to know how it affects their brands and their organizations. It is not enough to train people on how to avoid harassment or even how to report it. We have to train around the social implications of the issues, conversations, cultures, and expectations. I got a ton of flack for asking this question on Linkedin (like I want to start working to support rapists) but there is real organizational damage when leadership does not understand the peripheral issues that these public and private crises cause.
It is actually not hard to avoid a social media crisis. I am super surprised that no one asks for advice in this area.