A colleague was fond of using a one-liner with senior management at his corporation, “I need to know what the facts are, so I know what lies to tell.”
Always good for a smile. But my colleague — and everyone he was talking to — knew he was being facetious.
In the world of high-stakes public relations — Crisis & Reputation Management, there are certain lines you shouldn’t cross. Lying is one of them, because it’s worse than the original sin. The lie will come back and bite you. Your credibility will go down the toilet and take with it your reputation and whatever goodwill you’ve built up over years and even decades.
At the end of the day, reputation is your most valuable asset. It takes blood, sweat and tears to build your reputation — but only a moment to destroy it.
In the worst case, its loss can threaten the viability of your business.
There are always alternatives. Some may take you close to the line, but not over it. Things you can say or do to soften the glare, to shift the spotlight. May not make the problem go away, but they can make it less painful at the moment and less damaging down the road.
From the get-go, the Crisis PR guy must know what the facts are — where all the skeletons are buried. Not so he will know what lies to tell. But so he can fashion a strategy that’s plausible, withstands the test of time and scrutiny, and will redefine the tone of the story more favorably.
“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.