Some people thrive on action, whether they’re doing it or watching it. If you’re not in motion, you’re deemed to be doing nothing.
Long ago, when I was sitting in for the hyperactive city editor at the Associated Press, the news editor scolded me for not appearing busy. After assuring him all relevant stories were assigned and reporters were working on them, the news editor walked away, not wholly convinced and still grumbling suspiciously.
Clients sometimes view Crisis & Reputation Management in the same light. “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened.” “Why are you spending time talking to us instead of fixing the problem?” “Why aren’t you doing something this instant?” “Why can’t you make it better right now?”
Notice a trend? A desire for an instant cure. A sense that if you’re not breaking a sweat, you mustn’t be doing your job.
Let’s compare the client’s statements with reality.
This may well be the worst thing that’s ever happened to the client. Something the company or non-profit never had to face before. That’s unnerving. That’s also why they brought in an outside Crisis PR consultant who’s familiar with such matters.
Why the initial questions about the back-story? Because the Crisis PR person must know where all the skeletons are buried to do his job effectively. To be armed with half-truths and untruths can destroy the reputation of both the client and the PR person.
Why aren’t you making it better this instant? If you’re good at your job, that doesn’t mean flailing. You exude calm — gathering information, developing an initial strategy, making overtures to the media to learn what they know and where they’re headed. Then refining tactics to steer the media in the direction that’s achievable and most beneficial to the client.
Throughout the process, your gut will be knotted but you will always appear calm. More than anything, never let the media see you sweat, or they will hound you mercilessly.
“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.