Healthcare.gov Joins New Coke, BP Spill as Case Studies in PR Mismanagement

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 9 2013 10:05 AM

Healthcare.gov Joins New Coke, BP Spill as Case Studies in PR Mismanagement

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This December 2, 2013 photo shows a woman reading the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Politico's Hadas Gold has an interesting-if-insidery look this morning at healthcare.gov's troubled rollout as a PR case study in how not to manage a crisis:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Far from the world of government and politics, the botched launch of Healthcare.gov has become an instant classic. It has replaced such notorious bungles as New Coke and the BP oil spill as a real time example in the crisis management world of how not to respond when everything goes wrong. Experts are eagerly cashing in on the administration’s missteps, offering critiques in private interactions with clients, as well as publishing blog posts and op-eds on the basic rules of crisis management that were not followed.
“I have to believe there are lots of people in our business who are looking at this and saying, ‘Gee, these are the five things they did wrong. Here are the things I would’ve done differently,’ ” Marlin Collingwood, the president of CHT, told POLITICO. “This will be taught in a lot of business and marketing courses, and probably just as importantly in a lot of technology courses on how do you launch a new product. You certainly don’t do it like this.”
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The near consensus of those PR pros the paper spoke to was that the White House's cardinal crisis-management sin was failing to more quickly own up to the fact that there were very real problems with the site, instead largely brushing them off as "glitches." Other missteps included: setting expectations too high, not touting success stories enough, and failing to have a single, effective spokesperson for Obamacare and the website.

You can check out the full story here. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the article—like the majority of the current Obamacare-focused debate and coverage since the Oct. 1 rollout—is about the failures of healthcare.gov, the website, not the law itself.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

 

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