When you turn the last page on the calendar, the easy thing to do is pontificate about the dumb way things were handled in the past year — by other people, of course. Journalists love to do it. So do those whose job is to tamp down PR crises and rebuild shattered reputations.
There’s never a shortage of examples of those who step in it, big time. 2012 was no exception. Patraeus & Friends, Penn State & the Sandusky cover-up, Apple Maps, Chick-fil-A, “the 47%.”
Two difficulties with this approach.
First, it focuses on a few big stories, panders to basic voyeurism and feeds our obsessions. It lets us feel superior to the personal foibles of the powerful, disdainful of their errors when they aim high and fall short, and outraged when they express ideas we don’t agree with.
Second and more importantly, it skews reality by ignoring everything else — the multitude of issues that arise daily and affect the rest of us. Smaller in scale, but no less wrenching and critical to those involved. Business disputes. Management upheaval. Allegations of financial and ethical shenanigans. Investigations by government agencies. Civil and criminal litigation. The list goes on, the issues never cease, and they keep those of us in Crisis & Reputation PR constantly busy.
All are potentially devastating to the reputations and viability of companies, non-profits and individuals. A life’s work can be wiped out in an instant.
How to protect yourself? The best time to do damage control is before damage happens. So respond at the first whiff something is amiss. That’s when you have the most options and the most room to maneuver.
The alternatives are grim. Fixing problems after the fact is more intensive and more expensive. Those who opt to “wait and see” risk everything.
“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.