Lessons from the Guvnor PR death crisis

Posted: September 26, 2015 in PR/Media/Crisis magnt
Tags: , , , ,

Guvnor Uganda brand has been entangled in a crisis recently. A club patron died in hospital from injuries he got in Guvnor. This was apparently after the suspect Ivan Kamyuka aka Ivan Diesel “Ivo” hit Johnnie Ahimbisibwe aka Johnnie Danzel Jarmaine with a glass.The deceased was badly hurt and was rushed to the hospital but he could not live another day.It has been alleged that Kamyuka is currently dating Ahimbisibwe’s Ex girlfriend known as Nina.

This article strictly offers academic insight meant to create awareness about crisis PR management in Uganda. Therefore, it should be used for educational purposes and not viewed as an attack on institutions or individuals. The writer assumes no responsibility for contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
In crisis PR, you must be seen to have done your best not just bare minimum. Guvnor moved fast and grew with the crisis. They did not withhold any information or tell lies. Their statement was not altered at any time.
Guvnor cooperated with local authorities after the incident. As a number one corporate citizen, they worked with police. The suspect Ivan Kamyuka was immediately apprehended by the club security team and handed over to Jinja Road police station .The crisis would have taken a different direction if they had not cooperated with the police. Police is the sole investigating authority in the country. Guvnor Uganda press statement “What happened to him is tragic, and we have handed the case over to Uganda Police for the law to take its course. We are assisting the Police in every possible way, including CCTV footage of the incident”
They utilized the 24 hour news cycle of online media not traditional media to communicate better and ensure business continuity. Guvnor should be commended for giving a statement early enough to deal with speculation, rumours, and negative theories regarding the Guvnor brand that were all over social media. Guvnor did not hassle with the usual outdated full house press conferences. Social media is a quotable source for news today. Organisations should utilise it. Social media is power. Guvnor released information on social media through its platforms which helped in crisis management. They did communicate well from the start.
The Guvnor words were human and not insensitive. In a press release, Guvnor Uganda took time off to bid farewell to Johnny Ahimbisibwe. It was nice to let the public know that they take time to relate with their clients on a personal level. Guvnor Uganda press release had this to say about the deceased. “Always smiling, laughing, smart and affable is how we shall always remember Johnnie who spent many weekends with us having a good time”
Guvnor scored highly in crisis communication not crisis management. Statement explained well their side of the story but shocked on figures for reassurances? Was that the first incident of its kind? What reassurances does it offer in the statement? Are they doubling the number of bouncers?
The statement offers some reassurance to clients but did not actually speak to many threatened clients who may have wanted more details about security at the club. The statement lacked some details anyone would deeply relate to. Detailed report of changes to handle future similar crises would be fine. An announcement of a partnership with a partner to provide a stand-by ambulance would be great. An ambulance with life support equipment and a qualified medical team in front of the media will reassure the clients. Stage managed media publicity around Guvnor Staff going through refresher basic first aid training would go a long way to boost their brand.
Part of  the Guvnor Uganda press statement read “We assure the public and our esteemed clients that as always, we’ll do everything humanly possible to keep you safe within our premises”
“GUVNOR UGANDA is renowned for its attention to security matters, and many a times, we’re rebuked for being ‘too strict’. Its all for the security of our esteemed clients, that we do everything humanly possible to keep them safe on site.” Excerpt from Guvnor Uganda press release regarding their security situation.
Guvnor has continued to do impeccable crisis PR. It posted on Facebook “This month Guvnor Uganda would like to refute with contempt, the stories making rounds that one of our section is to be closed. There is no truth at all in these malicious reports”
“This is time for us to mourn the passing of our patron, and to take stock of everything that happened. We would really appreciate it if we’re contacted FIRST, BEFORE posting malicious reports like these. Our page is open to all our esteemed clients, feel free to consult us please” Another post said.
As a number one responsible corporate citizen, Guvnor Uganda took time off to strongly condemn such acts of violence.Guvnor failed to use the media attention to do more good. Publicly announcing taking over of all funeral arrangements would be great. It would not hurt to also extend a bursary if their budget allows to the deceased’s child if any. Teams on duty have not been named and recognised publicly especially the security team at the club. It was their job but a public thank you motivates.
You can never be sure how anyone reacts in any possible crisis situation but above all do whatever you can with what is humanly possible. Organisations must have crisis management manuals and teams.

Ivan N Baliboola
PR and organisational diagnosis specialist


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