With the recent publication of diplomatic emails and communications from abroad about other world leaders, The White House and State Department find themselves in a situation that a number of their counterparts have faced in the private sector ... and the response should be similar. For example, the U.S. Government should've gotten in front of the story and broken it before the media did. The government should've had advanced notice that the story would be published and should've used its social media tools to break the story, issue a statement and lay out a strategy for how it was dealing with the situation.
Now to repair its' image, the government should:
1. Admit the error and apologize.
In general, we (not just the government, but everyone) need to admit that we make mistakes, but mistakes like this, the government should say, are inexcusable and we are regret that some of these comments were made.
2. Show that you are taking corrective action.
It is important to show that you are taking steps to fix the problem and begin to repair any relationship fractured by the statements.
3. Invest in goodwill.
The United States already is invested in regions throughout the world. However, now, it needs to look at where the most damage is done and find ways of healing wounds.
4. Show the investment already being made in the region.
A lot of the damage can be undone by showing what the U.S. has already done in a particular region. By reminding others what has already been invested and accomplished, they may be more forgiving.
Unfortunately, this situation reminds each of us that we need to adopt the new way we communicate with each other and the potential for how others may share information they should not be sharing. Our reputation can change in a 'Tweet," let alone a series of emails. Therefore, we need to be careful what we communicate and to whom, particularly those representing a government, at a local, state, federal or international level.
Now there are lessons we can learn from this experience and the best lesson here is:
"If you don't want to read about it in the paper, then don't write it down."