May 4, 2013
Public Relations Firm Counsels Caution in Crisis
When you live your life in the public eye, chances are sooner or later you will find yourself dealing with an uncomfortable situation. Mistakes may have been made or, perhaps, you or your company may have been accused of errors. At that moment, the facts of the case matter much less than your reaction to the situation.
While it is understandable to vigorously defend oneself in the face of negative PR, 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian suggests a careful and considered response. Sure, when something potentially negative happens, most strong people wish to address it as soon as possible. That is an understandable response, and it can be the right one. As long as that response is measured, planned and controlled. Let’s look at some scenarios.
#1 – You make a mistake
We’re all human, but there is some truth to the idea that the only thing some people love more than a success story is a fall from grace. Think of that mistake as an unexploded bomb. It may feel like you are already getting shelled, but if you immediately fire back, chances are that mistake you’re holding will really explode. Instead, your response must be cautious, careful and tactful. A difficult proposition in a highly emotional situation. But it is possible when you have the right representation.
#2 – You get accused of a mistake
You did nothing wrong but now at least some people are convinced of your guilt. It’s humiliating, frustrating and can leave you angry – with nowhere to direct that justifiable anger. Here’s the problem, if you decide to respond while angry, no matter how justified, you may make matters worse. While it is true that many people like to think the worst, many will believe the truth if presented properly. It is not enough just to tell the truth, it must be packaged in a way people want to hear it.
#3 – Your employee makes a mistake
Depending on the severity of the offense, it may be tempting to fire them and just move on. But doing so can leave far too many questions unanswered. In 2012, a major media network was accused of doctoring a recording to implicate a potentially innocent man of a crime. It worked. The producers were subsequently fired and the network moved on as if all was right with the world. Then, months later, another mistake was made. Guess what the first thing that came up was? Yep. That “old” news was suddenly breaking news again. Instead of dealing with the current mistake the network was dealing with accusations of institutional corruption. They could not deal with the actual issue because an unresolved issue was in the way.
In all of these instances, your first response may be defensive. That’s understandable. But you must squash that reflex and think about the response to your response. Your first call should be to a public relations firm. Agencies like 5WPR handle crisis PR on a regular basis, and we know exactly how to address these situations.