Fear and hope are never far apart when facing a threat that could tarnish a reputation years in the making. So much is on the line. The more imminent it is, the closer they are. In the same instant, clients recoil from the threat and embrace the hope that it may not happen.
But hoping for the best rarely works. Seldom do threats subside on their own. Making them go away is an art. Turning a tide of negative attention into one that’s neutral or positive takes skill. Silencing an issue before it becomes public demands even greater finesse.
Few are cut out for it. Clients almost never. They’re the ones under attack and are least credible to the media and public. Lawyers are focused on the court of law, not the court of public opinion. Business managers are mindful of financial impact, but often unrealistic about public impact. A marketing PR team is skilled at promoting widgets and services, but ill-equipped for the intense combat needed to beat down the other side and protect an image under attack.
That’s why there exists the tiny niche of Crisis & Reputation Management. Those who do it well, do it exclusively. Anything less — claiming to be all things PR to all people — dilutes expertise.
They know the media best because they were part of it. They understand journalistic psychology. They know what the reporter is seeking — and how to shape the result.
Their ultimate strategy must work for the client and his closest confidants. It best parries the allegations and protects the client in the media. In beating back one allegation, it doesn’t create new legal problems. It safeguards financial well-being, but with a storyline that’s realistic.
Bottom line: What is salable to the media and public — and what isn’t?
Implausibility is never the solution. The news is replete with stories of those who strained credulity and went down in flames. That’s not the end you want for yourself.
“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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