Writes Tshepo Matseba APR (in his personal capacity). He is PRISA’s president-elect.
Refer Communika May 2011 P4
The poor handling of South Africa’s global icon, former President Nelson Mandela’s illness by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the then government spokesman, Themba Maseko, who was apparently fired for having made a hash of Madiba’s hospitalisation demonstrates the significance of planned strategic corporate communication. Political commentator Justice Malala wrote in South Africa’s The Times “First there was the two-line statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, saying the man had gone into hospital for routine tests. Communication lesson No1: don’t lie. The truth will come back and bite you.”
In a nutshell, there was no clear strategy on who should communicate what and when in relation to the statesman’s illness. The controversy was further compounded by the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s initial statement that Madiba was not admitted to hospital, which changed to he is being admitted for “routine tests.” It took Deputy President Kgalema Motlante’s intervention to settle the matter which had local and international media at the hospital for a few days and sent the world into panic about Madiba’s health.
Communication blunders such as this one demonstrate the importance of having a sound strategic communication plan in any organisation that seeks to have or maintain competitive advantage by keeping all stakeholders abreast of developments within and outside it.