Fast-acting isn’t beneficial only for Alka-Seltzer, Advil and diet plans. It’s also a basic rule for Crisis & Reputation Management.
Nip the issue in the bud quickly, or you’re in for a long and painful slog in the pitiless glare of the media and public. It also lets you short-circuit potentially detrimental speculation. But timing is important, too.
Consider David Letterman, the longest-serving late-night TV talk show host in history. Only one week after he announced he would retire, CBS unveiled his successor, Stephen Colbert. Quick. Clean. No room or time for talking heads to build support for their personal favorites, which would’ve created hard feelings for the losers and burdened Colbert and CBS with undesired baggage. Smart business move.
Or Scott London, the former senior partner at audit giant KPMG who was just sentenced to 14 months in federal prison and fined $100,000 for selling insider information to a golfing buddy. Remember how quickly KPMG distanced itself? If you blinked, you would’ve missed it.
Or Kathleen Sebelius, whose decision to step down as head of Health & Human Services was well-timed. She oversaw the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, and many had been calling for her head. But changing horses mid-stream can be risky and disruptive, especially when the current is swift and treacherous. So her departure was delayed until enrollment season ended on a upbeat note. The rationale: Put troubles in the past, so her successor can move ahead with few distractions to refine, consolidate and expand the healthcare program. Smart political move.
You see it every day, with businesses, non-profits and high-profile individuals. Bad behavior of all sorts puts reputations at risk. Misuse of money. Abuse of power and position to harass and unduly influence. Legal squabbles between colleagues and competitors.
Which strategy is the best solution for your problem? The answer is itself a question: What will play well with the media and public — and what won’t?
“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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