The Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion this week found himself in an international storm of bad press and hate mail.

For Walter James Palmer it’s certainly a personal disaster – but as a businessman with a dental practice, it’s also a costly professional crisis, and Mr Palmer has written to his dental patients in attempt to limit the damage.

Whether he’ll succeed or not remains to be seen. But Mr Palmer’s situation is a reminder that any business anywhere in the world – however big or small – can suddenly be hit by an unforeseen catastrophe that can have a costly impact on brand and reputation.

That’s where the art of crisis communications comes in. At times like these, it’s only fair that a company should be able to give its side of the matter, and make sure any mitigating circumstances are fully explained.

But most importantly, when the bad stuff happens, it’s important for a company to first make a sincere and rapid apology for any genuine harm or upset caused.

You could say Mr Palmer has provided a lesson in how not to handle crisis situations, apologising only for disruption to his dental practice and speaking of his passion for hunting, in the face of world-wide condemnation – time to call in the professionals?

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