Counting Chickens Too Soon

 Manage expectations. Outperform and you're a hero.

Manage expectations.
Outperform and you’re a hero.

“Great news,” the client emailed excitedly. “That negative story didn’t appear. Brilliant result!”

“Don’t jinx it,” we suggested. “So far, so good. But don’t celebrate too soon. Give it another month. Then you can comfortably begin to exhale.”

Subdued and prudent is preferable to brash and zealous.

When clients are confronted with a threat to their reputation, they’re understandably anxious to start fixing it. They’re even more anxious to declare it finished.

Why? Such situations are unnerving. They monopolize waking hours and intrude upon sleep. They distract you from running your business and other things you need to focus on.

Even those who deal with them daily feel the pressure, and that keeps the adrenaline pumping. Pity those who face these situations rarely — or never have before.

It’s terrible enough when you know something bad might happen, and it does. It’s worse when you believe you’ve beat it — and it still happens.

It’s a fundamental rule in Crisis & Reputation Management: Never stop expecting the worst. When it does occur, you won’t be surprised or disappointed.

Case in point: The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has been a disaster. Even supporters admit it. Is it simply an implementation problem, or an indication the entire program is flawed? Leave that to the partisans, who will bicker ad nauseam — and without resolution.

So was Boeing’s oft-delayed timetable for its 787 Dreamliner — not even counting the recent battery problem that grounded the entire fleet. Or the failure of UPS and FedEx to make all Christmas deliveries on time because they under-anticipated demand and hadn’t beefed up capacity.

The lesson? Always aim low. Doesn’t matter if you’re a politician with a pet project, a lawyer steering a client through dangerous shoals, a tech company with a new gadget, or a financial adviser with a sure-fire portfolio plan. Caution that there may be glitches, because there usually are. Forecast modest results (even though you hope for better).

Manage expectations. When you outperform, you’ll be a hero.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Preparation & Training. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.

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For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

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