Not over-thinking may be a good general-purpose rule for most people. It’s pleasant to sail along blissfully, unaware (or at least unbothered) by all the potentially bad things lurking under the surface. After all, over-analyzing can suck the joy, spontaneity and surprise out of life.
But it’s a terrible idea for those dealing with high-stakes situations that could destroy reputations or even companies. So many things can go wrong. You’ve got to anticipate all of them and be prepared in advance with storylines that are reassuring and plausible.
The operative word is “plausible.” Too often, explanations strain credulity. Think of the sex scandals involving Tiger Woods (my wife broke out the back window of the SUV to rescue me) and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, not having an affair in Argentina), and the sexting scandal involving former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York (I didn’t know any of the women were under-age).
In the world of Crisis & Reputation Management, once a scandal starts to unravel, it falls apart quickly. You need to stay ahead of it. The rule is simple: If the media haven’t already thought of all the questions and implications, they will soon enough.
So be prepared. Surprises are rarely positive and never desirable. You can’t unring a bell or unhit the “Send” key on your computer. But if you know where the skeletons are buried, you will be prepared and can anticipate the worst.
Afterthought: There’s good news and bad about living in a world where every scenario has been minutely analyzed. The good (professionally): There are no unpleasant surprises. The bad (personally): There are no surprises, period.
“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.