Thursday, February 07, 2008

Meijer Mea Culpa

There's an empirically tested theory that basically claims that people are more likely to believe a statement from someone when it contradicts what they expect that someone to say.

In the case of Meijer, we all might have expected their internal investigation to conclude they did nothing wrong in the Acme Township case. But, according to the Grand Rapids Press, they are admitting wrong doing and willing to pay appropriate fines.

According to the Coombs typology of crisis response, such an admission and apology is at the far end of a continuum of organizational crisis response and image restoration efforts (the other end being attack the accuser or denial). So it would appear Meijer is doing the right thing. But, in crises as in comedy, timing is everything. Does the apology come too late?

Ultimately when we talk about crisis and image we are talking about public opinion. I encourage you to read the Press article linked above and scroll down to read comments. There are some good ones. Including questions about SST that still have to be resolved. More will come on that as the state and the Acme Township state police detective continue their investigations.

For now, let me add one more academic perspective. Psychologist Virginia Satir informs us on the Meijer situation now that they are trying to make right. She says: "Your reactions to the situations in life are more important than the situations themselves." Put another way, you can't communicate your way out of something you behaved your way into. Acme residents are going to watch what Meijer does, not just what they say.

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