The delicate art of the apology

Officials at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia made the wrong decision to open schools during a snowstorm, and issued a direct, sincere mea culpa.

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I apologize in advance to anyone who may find this blog to be boring, offensive, off-the-mark, annoying, or even trivial. There. I said it. I’m sorry.

Apologies don’t always come that easy and aren’t always that easy to deliver, are they?

Then again, the circumstances begging for an apology, especially a public apology at a time when a harsh limelight is focused on the situation, are usually far more complicated than my example. When it comes to damage control as a public relations strategy, knowing how and when to deliver an apology can make all the difference between success and failure.

Those of us who live and work in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area know all too well that few things connect the 6 million or so inhabitants in our region (and can create absolute havoc amongst us) quite like the first significant snowstorm of the winter. That storm happened this week.

As a former school district spokesperson and as a parent myself, I assure you there is nothing that is more certain to bring out the “Monday morning quarterbacks” than a seemingly botched decision on whether to close schools or not.

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