“Go in a Pope. Come Out a Cardinal.”

Wishful thinking lets matters fester. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Wishful thinking lets matters fester.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

When 115 Roman Catholic cardinals walked into the Sistine Chapel recently, any of them could have become the next Pope. Some believed they would. When they walked out two days later, all but one were still cardinals.

There’s an age-old precept of Vatican politicking: “Go in a Pope. Come Out a Cardinal.” It’s a caution against presuming — and it’s true in all areas of life, including Crisis & Reputation Management.

Left to their own devices, clients facing sensitive PR situations routinely commit two sins: Convincing themselves that only the best outcome will happen, and believing that the worst won’t. Both are the result of wishful thinking, and that just lets matters fester rather than nipping them in the bud. Little issues become big problems, and when they finally burst into the open, they’re raging out of control and creating more damage to the client’s business and reputation.

Those who specialize in Crisis & Reputation Management don’t have that luxury. They must be coldly analytical from the outset. Tell clients what they need to know, not what they want to hear. It can be bitter medicine, but it’s what separates an outside Crisis PR consultant (whose only job is to fix a problem) from an in-house PR guy (who wants to make his boss happy and keep his job).

Being too close clouds judgment, distorts the depth of problems and makes it difficult to find solutions that will work. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult to break. That’s when clients seek outside Crisis PR counsel. They want the perspective of someone who can be unemotional and find the most effective path out of the glare of an undesirable spotlight.

At the end of the day, the client has only one wish: Fix the problem.


“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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