We have talked in this space about the inability to prepare and to be ready for imminent crisis making the actual crisis more difficult than it has to be. Whether it is Penn State or Herman Cain or Hewlett Packard, there are examples all around us of people and organizations that are oblivious to the risk of exposure. And don’t think it is just about overzealous news media or Internet trolls. There are firms who, for a fee, will be happy to dig up dirt on your competitor’s CFO and make sure that previously hidden transgressions get some airplay.
Now comes a book which reveals some of the methods, how this is done. The book is “We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics” by Michael Rejebian and Alan Huffman. An excerpt ran in the WSJ this week.
Not only is the Internet available to data mine but other more traditional tactics are there to use. Ex-wives and husbands, former employees, tax accountants…the list goes on. It all depends on your situation, how competitive a market you may be in and the nature of your competitors, how heavily scrutinized your financials may be by Wall Street and other factors.
I once heard of a media skills trainer who ended a rigorous training session with a CEO about to engage in a media tour, with one final hypothetical question. “So, tell me, how has your arrest for DWI affected your ability to serve as a CEO?” The response was quick. “WHAT? That charge wasa dropped. How did you find out about that?” The reply was equally quick. “I got it on the Internet, without even trying too hard. And if I can find it, a reporter sure can. Now let’s talk about the proper response to that kind of question. ”
Privacy may be a thing of the past. Awareness and preparedness do not have to be.