Who speaks for your company?

When you think about the voice that comes out of a company or organization, what do you envision? For me it’s folks like the late Steve Jobs at NTSB on-scene, Thomson, GAApple, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company. I would wager to guess that many of you had similar folks or some incarnation of a public relations person or CEO.

What would you say if I said someone let an intern speak on their behalf? You’d probably say that I was nuts.

Well, that is unless you work at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), where an intern did just that.

What you say? On July 6, there was a terrible crash in San Francisco Asiana flight 214 which led to an erroneous report on a local television station.

You remember the video that went viral, you know the one where a news outlet that reported that the flight crew’s names were “Captain Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

Now in watching that video, many called the news station gullible and laughed at their expense of how they were pranked. Little did the station and the public know that the prank came from an intern at the NTSB.  The agency noted that the names were in fact offensive (anyone who can read could tell that) and that in fact they came from an intern in a press release:

The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.

Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.

The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today’s incident.

Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.

In reading that release, it can be assumed that the NTSB made a bad hire. It also raises the question as to who is authorized to speak on behalf of a company or organization.

At my job, I know who can. Do you know who can at your business? Do you have processes in place to make sure a snafu that happened in this governing body won’t happen at your business?

If not, you should probably add that to your “To Do” list.

On a random side note, do you think this kid will add this to his resume with the description “knows how to go viral?”

Image NTSB

3 Responses to Who speaks for your company?
  1. 40deuce
    July 16, 2013 | 11:52 am

    I couldn’t agree more, Jeff. You need to make sure that the person or people that speak publicly for your company always have your organizations best interests in mind. You also need to make sure these people are capable to start with or are trained properly so that even with your best interests in mind they are able to do it right.
    Sometimes I’m surprised that my company lets me speak on behalf of them (but that’s a completely different story altogether).

    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

  2. jeffespo
    July 16, 2013 | 8:33 pm

    40deuce Thanks buddy… I just think it is one of those things that make you scratch your head and say huh?