It seemed so easy over lunch. The client described how his reputation and that of his nonprofit were in danger of being trampled by hints of indiscretion. I laid out an aggressive strategy: Pre-empt the accuser by telling the client’s side to a broad audience before she gained traction. Limit her options. Hem her in. I told him how.
“Great idea,” the client said. Then he went back to his office and dithered. “Gee, that really wouldn’t be very nice of me,” he concluded. So he did nothing.
Meantime, she used the respite to gather strength and develop a broad audience online. She even succeeded in raising doubts among leaders in the close-knit industry. All they heard was her side. Only silence from his.
Subsequently, I heard from the client. “Guess you were right, after all,” he said, apologetically. My thoughts, unspoken, were unprintable.
The lesson: When you’re under attack, your instinct is to make it personal. Because it is. Which makes you the worst judge of how to deal with a problem — whether the solution is waging a war or shifting the spotlight.
For that, you need someone with no dog in the fight. Someone detached, who has the perspective to analyze a situation without emotion and execute a strategy without qualms.
We all have mottos that instruct us and guide us:
For souls crossing the River Styx into Hell in Dante’s Inferno, there was the sign above the ferry entrance: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
For those who do Crisis & Reputation Management — and do it well: “No time for hesitation and no room for error.”
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.