Doing What Comes Naturally

No missteps allowed. They may be fatal.Photo courtesy of

No missteps allowed. They may be fatal.
Photo courtesy of

We all do what comes naturally. For most of us, that includes breathing and moving about. For some,  thinking deeply. Beyond that, it usually depends on our career. For doctors, unraveling medical mysteries. For mathematicians, solving riddles. For politicians … sorry, nothing to brag about.

For those in Crisis & Reputation Management, it’s working with the media.

Actually, the media also qualifies as a mystery and riddle. And because of client confidentiality, no reputable Crisis PR person would — or should — brag publicly in detail about his cases.

Outside the industry, it’s also a mystery to most people what a Crisis PR person really does. Some think it’s simply writing a press release. Others believe he has every journalist beholden to him and simply calls in chits to promote or kill stories. If only life were so simple. (It’s not.)

In truth, the Crisis PR person and journalist are doing a dance, and it’s highly choreographed. They understand each other, respect each other’s power, and have their own agendas.

Bottom line: The journalist wants a good story. The PR person helps shape the story, while positioning his client as favorably as possible. The client just wants the situation made better.

Strategy and tactics in Crisis PR depend on knowing the real story. Half-truths hurt the client. They make it impossible to differentiate between what’s desirable and what’s feasible — and that makes it difficult to redeem a reputation.

Is this dance easy to learn? No. It can take years. Working with the media isn’t rocket science. But it is high stakes, intense and unforgiving. No missteps allowed because they may be fatal.

This is why the best people in Crisis & Reputation Management were themselves journalists at major news organizations. They walked the proverbial mile and know of what they speak.


“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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