“Nothing rattles me,” the young executive routinely assures colleagues. Makes sense. That’s her job. She is the voice of calm and reason in the midst of the storm, and that lets her find solutions to clients’ problems.
Then the unexpected happened, and she lost it. She’d just bought a new car 10 days earlier, and another driver slammed into her “baby.” Her sense of control evaporated.
She ran around the crash site apologizing to everyone in sight. To the father of the other driver for the inconvenience of having to come get his son. To neighbors for disturbing their dinners. At one point, she said she was sorry for saying she was sorry.
The one thing she never apologized for was causing the accident, because she hadn’t. But the damage was done. The other driver seized on her repeated apologies to try to shift the blame.
Clients facing PR crises often have the same reaction. They are too close and too invested to be objective. Whether it involves their company, their non-profit or their personal reputation.
Like when a consumer claimed he found a cigarette butt in a bag of packaged food and told his story to a TV station. Despite advice that he not do it, the firm’s owner called the consumer directly and asked how much he’d need to pay the consumer to keep him quiet.
Or the executive who insisted the best way to settle a business dispute with Google was to sue it. The executive’s boss overruled him and instead embraced the advice of her lawyer and Crisis PR counselor to provide Google a graceful exit that gave the client everything it wanted. Google leapt at the opportunity.
There’s a moral here: As soon as a situation becomes personal, the dynamics shift. No matter how prepared you think you are, you’re not. At least, not any more.
“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 and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.
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