Bradford Banducci CEO of Woolsworth
Many CEOS would be watching the unravelling of soon-to-be former Woolworth’s CEO Brad Banducci after last week’s Four Corner’s interview that went, put politely, awry and thinking how unenvious they are.

It has been headlined as a ‘mini tantrum’, a ‘churlish’ outburst that saw Banducci threaten to storm out of an interview after a non-filtered clapback was kept on the record.

It wasn’t until his PR advisor told him to get straight back into that seat that I imagine Banducci realised what he’d just done.

Sure enough, the Four Corners team managed to use that one moment as their key teaser for the interview to come and within a day, Banducci announced his retirement.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen CEOs blunder in the media over a hard question or two and not long after start packing their desks.

When the Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosemarin was accused of showing no empathy in her ABC interviews following a national network outage – her resignation followed closely after.

It always comes back to the same thing: A bad interview after some already unfavourable headlines will cause you to pay the price (no pun intended Brad) in reputational damage.

I’ve worked with thousands of CEOs in Crisis Media Training and one of my number one tips is when you’re stepping up to the plate in a difficult situation, the management of your personal state is everything.

If you come across disingenuous, childish, show no empathy or remorse and just keep shifting responsibility – you will come out of that interview worse off than you started.

But if you prepare effectively, take all the right advice, get ready for any curly questions, manage your personal emotions and show that you genuinely care – that’s when you’re managing a crisis as a CEO effectively.

To put it on the record, Banducci would absolutely have been prepared for the totally predictable concentrated market / price gouging questions that Angus Griggs sent his way but he let himself get triggered and his emotions get the better of him.

If you’re a CEO, do something that calms you before an interview. Go for a walk or do a meditation. Your headspace in the tough times is one of the biggest shows of leadership.

In those times, you’re presenting to potentially the biggest audience you’ve ever had and getting it right is critical. Monday night’s episode of Four Corners reached a lot of Australian living rooms. It was watched by a national TV audience of 916,000 and another 52,000 watched on-demand.

After nine years in the top job, Banducci should know by now that getting something taken ‘off the record’ when it is very much on is as likely as getting a grocery shop under $100 nowadays. It won’t happen.

And storming out while muttering under your breath creates the news grab – it doesn’t get it cut out.

So, for any CEO out there looking at top tips NOT to get yourself in that same situation, be prepared for the difficult questions, stay composed and own your mistakes.

But also, be a human. Show your connection and that you care.

And if you need a hand or just want someone to kick around your potential media crises with, you know where we are.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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