One Size Fits All? Not Even Close

To protect clients, you must know the skeletons.Photo courtesy of

To protect clients, you must know the skeletons.
Photo courtesy of

“What’s a typical situation and solution in Crisis PR?”

It’s a common question. But it’s the wrong one. Looking back on decades of top-tier journalism and high-stakes PR, no two situations were alike. A few basic similarities perhaps, but beyond that all diverged sharply. The stories were as different as the response that was required to them.

Journalists and those who excel at Crisis & Reputation Management share a key aspect — an agile and flexible mind-set. To do their jobs well, they must adapt quickly and easily as stories and facts evolve.

The most dangerous attitude in Crisis & Reputation Management is mental calcification — “I’ve seen this before, so I’ll solve it the same way.” That’s the quickest way to injure a client.

Every situation is unique, and it must be treated that way to help the client. First, learn the facts. That means unearthing all the skeletons, even those that clients are uncomfortable revealing. Allay this reluctance by ensuring you’re covered by attorney/client privilege and confidentiality.

The worst scenario is to confront the media armed with half-truths. There’s no quicker way to lose credibility for the client and for the Crisis PR guy seeking to build a plausible defense. Without credibility, all is lost.

It’s no time for candy-coating when you’re confronting a crisis and a reputation is on the line. Presume even the darkest secrets will come out, and prepare the client for the worst. Better to under-promise and over-deliver. Makes the client happy and you a hero. The reverse begets disappointment and anger.

There are simple reasons why the best people in Crisis & Reputation Management are former journalists from major news organizations. They know how journalists think. They’ve walked the proverbial mile and know the rules. And, by nature, their minds are agile and flexible.


“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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