The Post Office Horizon scandal

Post Office Logo
In: Crisis communications, Organisational culture, Communications strategy, Crisis communications in practice

Last month I was asked to write a couple of hundred words for this issue of Communicate Magazine.

Their 'In their shoes' section asked four Crisis Comms Experts to share their thoughts on how to address the reputational issues facing the company.

Part of the challenge of writing about fast-paced news for a quarterly publication is that obviously things change by the time publication comes around.

But, as it happens, I can still stand by every word written more than six weeks ago... Well before the "smear campaign" briefing battle between former Chairman Henry Staunton and business secretary Kemi Badenoch.

Every once in a while an issue unites a country. After years of excellent journalism from Computer Weekly, Private Eye, and the BBC it’s taken an ITV Drama to focus the nation on the Post Office’s Horizon IT scandal.
The issues it raised are not new. But the scale of public interest is.
When responding to any crisis, organisations need to get on the front foot to identify the problem and explain how they’re going to put things right. To say sorry. And show how they’ll prevent similar things from happening again.
Corporate communications never fixes a crisis. Corporate change does.
In fact, much has already changed at the Post Office since the scandal. Including the CEO. And much that still needs to happen is out of their hands.
So the most that the Post Office can do now is to encourage policymakers and Postmasters to declare their support for those changes. To try to draw a line under the whole story both legally and financially. And to actively support the pursuit of further justice.
Will the return of the gong by a former CEO and a pledge by the current CEO (“We must put this right”) soon reduce interest in previous wrongoing? I wouldn’t bet on it.

A slightly edited version of this article features in this month's issue of Communicate Magazine.

A screen grab from Communicate Magazine
Written by
Chris Reed
I set up Restless Communications in 2011 to create strategic and integrated campaigns for brands I believe in. Away from work I shout at Arsenal, listen to loud music, and walk my dog.
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