As news cycles become faster and the public’s attention span ever shorter, a troubling thought occasionally bubbles up among some who find themselves in a harsh spotlight. What if we just lay low for a day or two? By then, maybe a new scandal du jour will have been captured the media’s fancy, and no one will care about us anymore.
If only life were so simple. File it under wishful thinking.
Once a situation is thrust into the spotlight, it takes on a life of its own. It’s the herd mentality. Every reporter wants to be first. If that’s already taken, the rest chase more insightful angles and tantalizing revelations. The story unfolds increment by agonizing increment. You’ve abdicated the opportunity to seize control by getting out in front, and now the story controls you.
You’ve seen it time and again. The Benghazi embassy attack. Penn State & Sandusky. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods — their extramarital affairs and divorces. BP. Tokyo Electric Power.
Of course, not all issues need be that prominent to engage the media — and most aren’t. But the stakes are always high for those involved.
Why do some issues make headlines and others not?
Sometimes it’s a matter of scale. Are you and your problems significant enough to be on the media’s radar? (Always assume the worst — and prepare for it.)
Other times it’s a matter of “news judgment.” The first question any reporter or editor asks is, Do our readers or viewers really care about this? (A subjective measure, at best.)
Still others reflect the deft hand of Crisis & Reputation Management, especially when issues never see the light of day or receive minimal media attention.
The worst thing you can do is to bury your head and hope the media storm will pass on its own. It rarely does, and you will be worse off for delaying.
“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.