It’s certainly a breathtaking moment in the media industry when a globally infamous publication like News of the World, first launched in 1843, suddenly announces it will shut down in less than a week. This wasn’t a slow-motion immolation, as some might think given the tabloid’s phone hacking scandal has been out in the wild for some time.
Rather, this was a rapid fire self-destruction, about as fast as any other major corporate implosion in the world of global crisis public relations. The most torrid allegations — that News of the World had hacked the voicemails of murder victims, terrorist casualties, fallen soldiers, and done so with the complicity of Scotland Yard — are, literally and figuratively, as bad as it gets. No crisis PR statements from Rupert Murdoch or any other parent executive could have helped the tabloid weather the extreme outrage it faced.
And that illustrates a hard reality in crisis management: if the client has little to no goodwill, then it has nothing to support it during trying times. For an institution whose profit was primarily based on invading privacy, defamation, and outright bullying, effective crisis public relations was never going to be an effective option.