When someone’s reputation is under attack, they dissolve quickly into an emotional basket case. This is the point at which the crisis PR guy assumes his alter ego — therapist. He reassures the client that it’s not as dark as it seems, that there are options short of a nuclear meltdown.
Clients he’s met only minutes before defer to him for guidance. He’s the calmest person in the room. His emotions are in check, his voice doesn’t rise, he is in control of the situation. This is what the client wants — and it’s what the client needs.
When that dynamic is established, the PR person can go about his work — ferreting out the facts, developing a plausible storyline and effective strategy, then executing it. But once in a while, the therapist role remains in the forefront.
In one instance, we gave the client a guesstimate of what it might cost to cure a nasty situation. Had we been left to do our job, the guesstimate would have been spot on. Ultimately, it cost double, and the client paid without hesitation. She recognized the value received.
The client had never before faced such a situation, and she was terrified. So there were endless phone calls and meetings, going over the same matters time and again.
In her nervousness, she had walked out onto several ledges and was about to step off. Each time, we talked her down.
Holding the client’s hand is every bit as valuable as being able to work effectively with the media and other audiences. The consequences of both are substantial.
“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.