If problems didn’t exist, there’d be less need for lawyers, psychiatrists and other professions that fix them.
Crisis PR people are in that category. They’re equal parts problem-solver, hand-holder, confessor and consigliere. Unlike spiritual leaders who want to guide their flock back to righteousness, the overarching goal for Crisis PR is to understand the dynamics, analyze the options and find the solution that makes the pain go away.
Their primary weapon is to reassure — not necessarily that the client is right, but that the problem can be fixed.
How do you get there?
Start by listening. Not just to the words the client speaks. Those will only inform you about the superficial. Rather, listen to the tone of his voice and what is being unsaid. That’s the beginning of understanding.
Then guide the conversation to ferret out what lies beneath the surface. “How deep is the dislike between you and …?” “Do you feel cheated?” “Tell me more about the history.” “Did the relationship start out well, then go south?” “Why?”
The more you guide and deeper you drill, the more you learn.
The client may not be purposely withholding information. He may not realize the relevance. He may not even be fully aware of the undercurrents and how they are shaping the situation. He doesn’t have the benefit of fresh eyes, free of biases and emotions that color the perceptions of those who are close to any situation.
Crisis PR is more art than science. It’s absorbed by doing — by watching, listening and feeling until you know in your gut when you’ve uncovered the essence. Then you can solve the problem.
“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.”