We’re all better for having read, seen or told fiction. Whatever can be imagined, can be. Think Jules Verne, J.R.R. Tolkein and J.K. Rowling.
Not so in the world of Crisis & Reputation Management. Facts are facts. You can’t ignore them. You can polish, redefine or interpret differently. To use the vernacular, you can spin. Do it properly, and perceptions change. This is critical because what’s believed is accepted as true.
Take this week alone:
- A judge in South Africa found evidence was insufficient to convict paraplegic Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, but found him guilty of culpable homicide (equivalent to manslaughter).
- The Baltimore Ravens fired star running back Ray Rice after a video showed him punching his then-fiancée (now wife) in the face and knocking her out. Meantime, the NFL is rushing to reassure the public it wasn’t aware of the severity of the incident and hadn’t been trying to cover it up.
What’s this mean for reputations, now and long-term?
Pistorius was heralded for overcoming his disability and achieving the heights of sports, but that sheen quickly wore off after the killing of his girlfriend, a model. Will his reputation devolve as far as that of football star O.J. Simpson, who never recovered even after he was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend two decades ago?
What about Rice? Is his career over? Will he be welcomed back to football after the domestic abuse fades from the public consciousness?
Or the NFL? Has its latest black eye convinced the public that it acts more like an uncaring corporation rather than a national sport?
It’s not just athletes. Add to the mix anyone who wields power and enjoys celebrity. Scratch the surface only a little, and you find hubris, a sense of entitlement and a belief that rules don’t apply.
“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 310-396-8696.
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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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