Tax lawyers have a one-liner: “What’s the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion? About 20 years.”
Crisis PR folks have theirs, too: “What’s the difference between a storyline that works and one that doesn’t? Everything.”
Usually, clients are aching to tell their side — their version of the facts. Sometimes they sincerely believe it’s true.
What clients often can’t grasp is why reporters don’t care. It’s simple really.
It comes down to what’s sexy and what’s not. Almost every journalist will go with sexy every time. Why? Sex and controversy sell. Fair and balanced is boring.
You want to be heard above the din and have your version of the story told?
First, be honest about what the truth is — not what you wish it were.
Second, weave a story that’s plausible and will stand the test of time. You’ll need to back it up, so it must be defensible. Often clients fall short on this, such as the KPMG partner ensnared in an insider-trading scandal whose initial fairy-tale explanation fell apart quickly.
Third, present it to the media with sincerity and credibility. Sounds easier than it is. Frequently clients’ reputations are too tarnished to pull it off themselves.
That’s the value of a Crisis PR person who’s been around the block often and has the media’s respect.
He knows in his gut when a story rings true and when it doesn’t, because he was a journalist and shares the media’s healthy skepticism.
What’s more, the media trusts him. Reporters knows he’s representing his client, but they also know he’s helped them when he could and never burned them. He’s got credibility.
Too much is at stake for you to settle for less.
“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.