In some circles, “attorneys” and “argumentative” are considered synonymous. But one judge had had enough. In handing down his ruling, he made it clear — in unusually colorful terms — that he was more interested in resolving the issue than having lawyers puff up their chests and dig in their heels.
The obstreperous attorneys not only got chastised. They lost their case.
It’s a lesson we can all learn from. Don’t lose sight of what’s really important: Winning.
In Crisis & Reputation Management, clients often feel wronged and want to lash out. How dare they say that about me? Their gut tells them to challenge allegations point by excruciating point. Rarely is that helpful. Never is it useful.
Don’t let the momentary adrenaline rush of a small victory distract you from your ultimate goal.
The first job of the Crisis PR person is to cool the ardor. There’s no upside in allowing the situation to devolve into a granular he-said-she-said. Doing so gives the allegations more credence and lets the other side control the debate. If they’re in control, you’re on the defensive. That’s not where you want to be.
Step back and take a deep breath. Define your audience. Who do you really want to convince? The media? The public? Your employees? Certainly not the other side — they want your blood.
Are you going to fight back? Absolutely. But do it on your terms. You pick the venue. Stay laser-focused on a few points that are most important to you. Ignore the rest, which will render the other side frustrated and shrill. Then fight hard and take no prisoners.
Pound the other side into submission. Just don’t let yourself appear obstinate or mean-spirited.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave similar — if less direct — advice to Princeton’s graduating class. Channeling baseball great Whitey Herzog, he said, “If your uniform isn’t dirty, you haven’t been in the game.”
“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.