My Monday morning opinions on 3 major ongoing crises in public relationships:

1. Sexual abuses in the Catholic Church: Today’s reports say the Vatican is rapidly at work updating their 2001 policies on dealing with and preventing sexual abuse by priests. A one-page summary of that update was just published. This, perhaps, is a beginning in the sort of substantial change to Church policy and practice that is needed before improvements in perception by the public can be expected. With more than 4,000 confirmed child abuse cases by Catholic priests in the U.S. alone over the past 50 years, representing abuse of minors by as much as 5% of the clergy, there is a lot of change needed. Before Catholic communicators can be held accountable for improved perceptions, deep and continued real changes, along with its symbolic counterpoints, will be needed.

2. Toyota accelerator recall: Yesterday’s NY Times shocked the PR world with the revelation, through internal Toyota emails, that the long time, well-regarded head of U.S. PR for Toyota warned Toyota leadership that “the game is up” 5 days before they agreed to significant recalls. He was responding to an email from another Toyota executive urging spokespeople to keep quiet about the issue. Not surprisingly, he has since “retired.” Media reports also indicate that NHTSA is also considering additional fines against Toyota related to the tardy recalls, after they assessed against Toyota the largest fine ever levied on an automaker last week. If Toyota objects to such fines, they will be further dragged through the media mill. Meanwhile NASA heps search for the technological culprits.

3. Tiger Woods redemption: The host of Morning Joe this am characterized Tiger as a “punk” in terms of his demeanor through and in the aftermath of yesterday’s Augusta Master’s Tournament. He didn’t just lose the tournament (came in 4th), but he lost the opportunity to redeem himself to his fans by not demonstrating more appreciation for their patience with him, despite the barrage of moral cheapness he has forced them to endure. His most significant pronouncement through the game was that his performance “sucked.” He had nothing to say when it was over. Compared with tournament winner Mikelson, who shed tears not over his triumph, but out of empathy for his wife leaving her hospital bed to join him at the finish, Woods came off like so much arrogant trash. A little grasiousness would have gone a long way. Guess he doesn’t have it in him. I can’t believe his sponsorships will not further suffer.

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