Presented by Mark Laudi, CEO, Hong Bao Media
"The test manipulations are a moral and political disaster for Volkswagen."
Yes, that may well be the case, and we all know by now that Volkswagen, the German carmaker, tried to rig test results in the lab when it came to checking for emissions of some of their diesel engines.
But without wanting to excuse what Volkswagen did there are some very valuable lessons for us in the media business about how it's dealing with the crisis.
And you probably couldn't come across a better example of crisis communications or crisis management in the contemporary times than this one.
Let's take a look at some of the other things that they said and did.
The first thing is this statement here from 20 September in which the then-chief executive Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn just issued this five paragraph statement.
The first paragraph very succinctly explains what happened. And without any further ado went into this apology.
"I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public."
And the two keywords in this paragraph are the words "sorry" and "trust" because it really is all about trust, how consumers feel about the brand.
And the word "sorry" is also significant because he didn't say "I apologise". He also didn't say "we are still investigating" or giving any other sort of excuse which would suggest that they don't already know what's going on. It's almost surprising that they came out with that word "sorry" quite so soon but really speaks to the number #1 rule in crisis communications which is to say sorry, which is to express regret or remorse. That's the first "R" in crisis communications.
Then we saw a couple of other announcements and comments.
"We will co-operate fully with the responsible agencies with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly and completely establish all of the facts of this case."
So once again, from a communications perspective, you've really got all the things in here that we need. Transparency, urgency, clarity, openness, a complete desire to establish all of the facts of this case.
From a communications perspective where not left wanting at all. The counter-example of this, the antithesis of this, if you weren't to do what Volkswagen did, would be to try to hide the facts, to try to buy time that investigations are still ongoing, or some other excuse not to express regret.
Volkswagen didn't do any of that. They are out there straight away saying exactly how sorry they are - the first "R", regret - and expressing how they are going to remedy the situation, which is the second "R".
So when we look further through their news announcements we see more of that remorse and that remedy coming through.
And all this is part of a news page which is updated so frequently you can't probably see that from where you're sitting. But we've seen multiple announcements, including videos, as well as text-based announcements from a variety of people on their homepage. So they're frequently updating members of the public, investors, car buyers, dealers with what's going on.
The alternative to doing this is to not provide these updates, is to leave people wondering, is to perhaps give the impression that you've got something to hide.
So once again, kudos to Volkswagen for getting this part of their crisis communications right.
We then come to this statement and look at the fact that Dr Herbert Diess, the Chief Executive of Volkswagen Passenger Cars continues that remorse that we saw in the previous statement.
"Volkswagen will do everything humanly possible to win back the trust - there's that trust word again - of our customers, the dealerships and the public."
Once again, we may not like them for having rigged their lab tests but in communications terms they are getting a lot of things right.
And when we look at the statement which we started our conversation with, very clearly laid out, just five clear points, no obfuscation, no flowery language, no attempts to hide what's going on, everything is laid out very very clearly, wrapping up with this statement from the Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber at the end: "The unlawful behaviour of engineers and technicians involved in engine development shocked Volkswagen just as it shocked the public."
So first of all, there is no hiding of what happened, it was unlawful behaviour, there is no trying to hide who was behind it, not staff generally but engineers and technicians.
"We can only apologise and ask our customers the public the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends."
And that's where we get over to the remedy part of the crisis communications story.
From a crisis communications perspective Volkswagen is certainly better than the lab tests.