“I won’t dignify that with a response.” It conjures up images of high-brow society (very Downton Abbey or Masterpiece Theatre).
For some, it seems an effective way to let the others know they’re being ridiculous and offensive. It might even thwart further taunting.
But with the media, this is the first of the 3 Deadly Sins of Crisis PR.
It’s comparable to admitting guilt. Right up there with “No comment.” It also creates a void that is filled to the brim with rumors and allegations happily provided by the media and public.
There’s always something you can say to soften the impact. If the accusation is untrue, say so. If you’re unsure, tell the media you’ll get back to them. Just make sure you keep your promise.
Don’t ramble. That’s the second sin. People tend to ramble when there’s silence. This is natural, but can be fatal when dealing with the media. It’s an old trick reporters love to use. They learn more dirt when you feel vulnerable and spout words without thinking.
The solution? Stick to the two to three points that are most important to you. Turn questions to your advantage.
Ever notice during political debates that effective candidates keep drilling the key messages of their campaign? It’s when they go off-script that bad sound bites are picked up. (Think Sarah Palin, Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford, and his brother Doug.)
The third sin is going DIY. Some clients — very intelligent and capable — have tried it and come in tears afterward seeking help. The lesson they learned belatedly? That DIY often ends up messier and more expensive to fix.
“No comment,” rambling nervously, and DIY are the most damaging. This includes pulling The Ostrich in hopes the problem goes away on its own. Don’t commit them, and you’ll have a better chance of saving your reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
“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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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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