King, Ferryman, Shepherd

A firm hand, a clear eye, and unwavering decisiveness.

A firm hand, a clear eye,
and unwavering decisiveness.

In one school of Tibetan Buddhism, there are three paths for leading others to enlightenment:

The King, who knows the ultimate truth and gently guides his subjects to it.

The Ferryman, who doesn’t know the final destination, but is on the path to realizing it and carries others toward it.

The Shepherd, who first helps his flock find spiritual awakening, then tends to himself.

These are all well and good on a serene, unrushed spiritual journey. Not so much in the bare-knuckle world of Crisis & Reputation Management. Gentle guidance is weakness. Uncertainty and hesitancy even more so.

A firm hand, a clear eye, and unwavering decisiveness are cherished.

The client’s reputation is on the line. No room to misjudge. Only one question is relevant: What needs to be done? Moments matter.

Certain questions clients should never utter: Shouldn’t we think about this some more? What are some other options? When do we need to decide? Is it better to wait?

The answers are obvious: Definitely be thorough, but be quick, be decisive and don’t belabor it. Don’t muddy the water with needless options. Decide now. Execute your plan now. Anything less creates delay, and that puts the client at risk.

How does the Crisis PR person know he’s right? Because he’s spent years on both ends of the news, as a journalist and as a PR person. He knows in his gut what the journalist really needs, what will “play” with the media and what won’t, which explanations are acceptable and which aren’t.

Think Jean-Luc Picard on the bridge of the starship Enterprise sizing up an obdurate and dangerous opponent. He and his senior staff have seconds to analyze the situation, then he utters the decisive words: “Make it so.” His decision is final and unchallenged. He must be correct, or the Enterprise is lost. Failure is not an option.


“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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