Crisis communication expert: BWL manager's NYC trip was 'unwise'

Jan 3, 2014

J. Peter Lark, general manager of Lansing Board of Water & Light, vows to remain on the job at a press conference on Jan. 2.
Credit WKAR/Joe Linstroth

On Thursday afternoon, J. Peter Lark, the embattled general manager of Lansing’s Board of Water & Light, stated at a press conference that he would remain as the head of the public utility. The announcement came after the Lansing State Journal reported that Mr. Lark was out of town in New York City for the early days of the extended power outage.  

Mr. Lark and the Board of Water & Light have come under heavy criticism for their handling of the crisis, which left nearly 40,000 customers in the dark, some for more than 11 days. As evidenced by the many citizen comments at last Monday’s special council meeting, much of this criticism has focused on the failure of BWL to communicate effectively with its customers.

Matthew Seeger is an expert in crisis communication, as well as the dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State. He joins us to assess BWL's communication strategy and explain the communication challenges posed by power outages, natural disasters and other crises.