In an earlier blog, we explored the nexus between cynicism and the uphill battle you face convincing the public you’re not guilty. Today let’s look at how to fight back effectively.
Obviously, it depends on the circumstances. Start with whether the accusations are true or not.
If the former, your options are limited. You’re in full defensive mode. You can’t make a flat denial. That would keep the story alive longer while the facts trickle out. Your reputation would suffer death by a thousand cuts. The best you can hope for is to shift the spotlight and make it less bad.
If the accusations are false, more paths are available. Least effective would be a simple denial. What else would the public expect you to say? A better option would be an aggressive campaign to demonstrate your innocence and redeem your reputation.
In this case, you’d also start by shifting the spotlight. Remember: The journalist’s primary goal isn’t necessarily to beat you up. It’s to get a prominent byline. Regurgitating accusations that have already been reported won’t achieve that. A fresh new angle that nobody else has will. Of course, the story must be solid, and you must be convincing.
What’s more, the story can’t simply be the one you’d prefer to have told if you had your druthers. That’s just a fantasy. The story needs to ring true with the reporter, and he must be able to sell it to his editor. This is where intimate knowledge of the journalistic mind comes into play, and it’s why those who are best at Crisis & Reputation Management were themselves journalists at major news organizations. They know what will work — and what won’t.
“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.