To quote Dr. Gregory House of the eponymously named TV series, “Everybody lies.”
Sometimes not on purpose. They really believe what they’re telling you because it comports with their perception of reality. But their version may be out of sync with the facts. What they tell you isn’t helpful, but perhaps it’s forgivable. That’s why a good Crisis & Reputation Management guy never takes anything at face value. If it smells fishy, it probably is.
Then there are clients who tell outright lies. Some hope if they hide the truth, it won’t be real. Others think that by not sharing, it’s easier for you to sell their story to the media and the public. But life doesn’t work that way. The worst situation is for a Crisis & Reputation Management person to step in front of the media armed with half-truths and lies. Both the PR person and the client can lose credibility in an instant.
A few years ago, a reporter for a major magazine was putting together a hit piece on a company. We were called in to help and were assured we’d been told everything. Then, as we sat in a meeting with senior management, a fax arrived from the reporter asking about a specific new allegation.
“Crap,” said the general counsel. “He knows about that, too?”
Knows about what? we asked. The general counsel fessed up and explained, “We were afraid if you knew the truth, it would make it harder to defend us.” Ultimately we succeeded in mitigating the impact of the story somewhat, but not as much as if we had known the truth earlier.
Some people just don’t get it. If you want someone to defend your reputation, tell him where all the skeletons are buried. Then an effective defense can be built.
“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.