5 Pointers for a Successful Apology

Former CIA director David Petraeus this week will make his first public speech since resigning in November 2012 due to the scandal stemming from an extramarital affair.

The former four-star general, set to speak at the University of Southern California event honoring the military, will acknowledge that he's "regarded in a different light now" than he was a year ago and that he'll try to make amends and move forward as best he can, according to prepared text of the speech obtained by The New York Times.

The admission of an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was a stunning fall from grace by Petraeus, who first made his mark  as a key architect of U.S. military strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus has kept a low profile since the revelation. In doing so, he may have violated one of the basic tenets of crisis response--apologize immediately for your actions.

Jim Lukaszewski, head of  the Lukaszewski Group, offers five elements of a successful apology strategy:

• Ongoing expressions of regret and empathy.
• Continuous explanation of how behavior will change.
• Encouragement of public discussion, especially by the victims about the perpetrator's mistakes and callousness.
• Commitment to overcompensate and complete restoration of damages and injury.
• Resolve to maintain contact with the victims and survivors until they lose interest.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01



About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/fpwellman Frederick Paul Wellman

    Those are great pointers in general..except they have nothing to do with Gen. Petraeus’ situation. There are no “victims or survivors”. There are no “damages or injuries”. He had an affair and got caught and has since spent several months making amends with his family as he should. Now he is stepping out to have a voice in the discussions concerning our veterans and our nation. Just my two cents.

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