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A common crisis management tactic is to apologise in an attempt to defuse a public controversy and pave the way for the company or individual to rebuild their reputation.

Releasing a survey on corporate reputation, the deputy chairman of Burson Marsteller U.K. Gavin Grant said "When you have an angry audience, trust in corporate and political leaders declines significantly. Before an audience is willing to engage their trust again they want to see the leader acknowledge the error".[1]

Martin Langford, the co-founder of the U.K. company Kissmann Langford and crisis-management expert, told PR Week "If any corporation has an issue or crisis on their plate, at the very least the spokesperson or CEO should demonstrate absolute concern. A formal apology is only appropriate if the corporation is clearly wrong in its actions or policies and is engulfed in a self-created crisis. Then it is totally appropriate."[2]

"People think that if a full apology is made, the crisis strategy is over. It is not. It is just beginning," he said.[2]

The senior vice-chairman of Weber Shandwick and former Sun editor David Yelland told PR Week "The first thing you must accept is that some corporate errors are so bad that, to be honest, no one's going to accept your apology. You just have to accept that you have done wrong, as I had to accept The Sun had done wrong over Hillsborough."[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Leaders say CEOs ‘should mend trust’", PR Week, October 29, 2004.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mark Johnson, "The PR benefit of a public apology", PR Week, November 5, 2004. (Sub reqd).

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