We need to talk about Kevin…

And There’s Moore….by Cliff Mooresmartphone

What do you do when it all goes wrong?

When there is no way back from the hole you’ve dug?

When that trickle of opprobrium heading your way becomes a torrent?

Well, in the words of advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi’s former chief executive Kevin Roberts, you ‘fail fast, fix fast, learn fast’.

He recently followed his own advice and quit his role fairly rapidly after ill-advised and dismissive remarks about women in business upset a great many people and pre-empted his downfall.

Roberts, 66, who was due to retire next year anyway, suggested, among other things, that women in the advertising industry did not have enough ambition.

At least he had the gumption to realise what he had done and step down.

Now the dust has settled, it’s time to ask why wasn’t he more aware of the potential difficulties he would cause himself and the embarrassment that rained down on his company before not engaging his brain when opening his mouth.

I am all for controversy. The world would be a poorer place without a little friction to make it go round.

There are degrees of controversy, however, and the brouhaha surrounding Roberts’ remarks clearly indicates he overstepped the line.

And if someone working at the very top level of his industry for decades can spectacularly misjudge the mood and suffer from foot in mouth disease where does that leave everybody else?

Quite possibly in need of professional guidance.

There is, of course, plenty of help available to businesspeople when it comes to dealing with the media.

To mix a metaphor, experts can provide full media training to help shepherd business leaders away from scoring reputational own goals. And, naturally, Deep South Media, staffed by 13 news professionals, sits among those experts

The cost of this may well seem an unwarranted expense on the balance sheet, but weighed against the unpleasant consequences of serious damage to your good name, it is a mere pittance.

Just ask Kevin…