Nearly a year ago, Shauna Lake, a longtime news anchor for the Salt Lake City CBS affiliate, experienced the effects of a high-profile mistake after a Utah State Highway Patrol officer pulled her over for suspicion of driving under the influence and arrested her after she failed a field sobriety test.
She later plead guilty to a reduced charge of "impaired driving, a class B misdemeanor, in place of the class B misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence she originally faced."
The incident should stand as a reminder of a few key points for communicators. First, we are all susceptible to making mistakes and facing the consequences. Second, the higher your public stature in your community or among your key publics, the greater your consequences seem to be.
Business leaders and other high-profile people can learn best practices on handling personal mistakes by looking at how Lake managed her own mistake.
After the media fallout of her arrest and after a week of being off air, Lake returned to her anchor post and began the newscast with a two-minute apology. As a result, she has been widely accepted back by her colleagues and the public following the embarrassing incident.
Her experience, and how she handled it, can be summed up in four key areas worth remembering:
It is not a guarantee of success, but communicators facing these situations would be wise to advise their clients on the side of honesty, sincerity, and courage – following the four steps Lake expressed with her apology. Doing so increases the possibility they may experience what Lake expressed, “this has been the most painful and challenging experience of my life. However, I believe it might possibly turn out to be the most defining experience of my life as well.”
An early version of this article appears on the blog of Snapp Conner PR.