You hear it every day. If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t have been so careless. I wouldn’t have gotten in this spot in the first place.
That’s wishful thinking. You don’t have your druthers. What’s done is done. Hand-wringing is a waste of time and emotion. The only pertinent question is, How are you going to fix it?
There’s never a shortage of ways people step in it. The amazing thing is that so many of those missteps have been made before. Only the names are different.
Consider the executive who sleeps with his secretary and whispers company secrets. Or the politician who skims campaign funds and abuses his oath of office. Or the nonprofit accused of violating the public trust and abandoning its mission. Or those who carelessly blurt insensitive remarks or purposely go on rants that offend everyone within earshot.
The default perception is that you’re guilty. The burden is on you to prove otherwise.
When it involves politics, there are usually shades of gray. Critics and defenders face off along ideological lines. Bias and perception are close cousins. (Try these questions: Did Obamacare succeed, or fail? Did the IRS target conservatives, or all PACs? Do neighbors support or oppose libertarian Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia in their battle with the BLM?)
Back to the question: How do you fix it?
Don’t waste much effort talking to your defenders. That’s preaching to the choir. A bit of reassurance is nice, but they don’t need convincing. They’re already your true believers.
Those you most need to convince are your critics, and they’re the toughest audience. More often than not, this includes the media.
By nature, journalists are cynics and skeptics. They believe people (especially powerful people) are inherently evil, and they aren’t easily persuaded otherwise. Still you need to win them over — or at least get your side of the story told fairly — because the media is your path to the eyes and ears of the public.
How do you do that? You must out-play the media at its own game. It’s no game for amateurs.
“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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