Addressing the crisis in trust: Why PR is not the answer

Robert Phillips
Jericho Chambers

A new crisis hits the news daily and CEOs beg for forgiveness. Reformed PR professional Robert Phillips has become jaundiced at the behaviour of such companies and the traditional PR approach to managing crises. In this article he argues that the old PR model is dead and that leadership – not trust – is the issue.

Martin Winterkorn, former Volkswagen CEO, has joined an ever-expanding Trust Hall of Shame – a global cast from Enron to RBS, BP to Toshiba.

VW thought it could beat the system on its own terms but instead proved, once again, that any organisation fails to tell the truth at its peril. Even in monetary terms, the cost of VW's criminal breach of trust is incalculable. It may exceed $20 billion set aside for fines and claims, not to mention 40% wiped off VW's stock price in the month after the story broke.