A lesson in crisis communications, from watching and analyzing the crisis that took place following the killing of the beloved lion Cecil .
I'm over in Europe watching the news about Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist at the center of the scandal involving the killing of beloved Lion Cecil in Zimbabwe earlier this month. It's a headlining story here and based on the frequency of posting on my Facebook page, it's a major story back home in the US, too.
Mr. Palmer hired a PR firm to help get him out of this mess. Once I saw the statement issued (provided below), I immediately thought to send it to my team and reimagine how we would handle such a situation:
Mr. Palmer's Statement: "In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
"I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have."
I'm as appalled as everyone else and think that there is something missing in Dr. Palmer's life that he needs to hunt animals for sport, but I also think that bringing this subject to light and perhaps turning the situation into something that benefits the protection of these animals, might benefit everyone.
So here's our suggestion to Dr. Palmer:
Apologize. Let the world know that in MN, perhaps sport hunting is readily accepted, but clearly the rest of the world takes issue with it and as a result of the public outcry you had time to reevaluate the moral and ethical impact of this sport. As a result, you would like to match any donation, up to $100,000 to donate to the Hwange National Park in order to arrange for the care and safety of Cecil's now-orphaned cubs.
We suggest you fall on your own bow and arrow, Dr. Palmer and try to do some good in the wake of destruction you've caused.