Proving a Negative

Calculating success can mean avoiding negative attention.
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“What’s the value of a negative story that’s never published?”

We’ve touched on this before. But it’s worth revisiting because it’s the essence of Crisis & Reputation Management.

Often our success is measured by the absence of negative attention. That result is self-evident, even if the process of getting there is shrouded in mystery. Not because we have secret and magical methods. Just because it’s outside the experience of most people and therefore hard to fathom.

But sometimes we achieve our goals in the opposite direction as well. If the bad news is already in the public domain and negative stories have appeared before we’re called in, the client’s first question is often, “How do we make it stop?”

The more important question is, “How do we turn this to your advantage?”

Two recent clients offer incisive examples.

In one, the negative news was out and the media was in a frenzy. Solution: Sidetrack the inevitable negative follow-up stories for 24 hours — a lifetime in the Crisis & Reputation Management business — and use that grace period to develop a positive storyline. Result: The reporters were happy because they got better stories than if they’d simply regurgitated the negative “old news.”

In the other, the client needed to announce a major change in their business but was terrified that true reason would become public. Trickier, but do-able. We found a positive and cutesy angle, peddled the story that way, and journalists were happy to follow our lead. Result: Client breathed a sigh of relief.

So whether you’re stopping a negative story from seeing the light of day — or turning a lemon into lemonade, the ultimate measurement of your success is the same. You’re proving a negative.


“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.



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