A recent Vatican report about U.S. nuns was most significant for what it didn’t say.
It didn’t condemn the nuns for “radical” and “feminist” ideas as expected when the investigation began in 2008 under conservative Pope Benedict XVI. Rather, it bore the compassionate imprint of his successor, Pope Francis.
The final report shifted the spotlight away from fine points of church doctrine (where it started), and instead praised the nuns for focusing on social justice and charity for the needy.
What a difference different prisms make.
Sometimes they are forged by personal experience. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, and Jesuits are one of the most liberal Catholic orders. He is the first pope from the Americas, and they are less shackled by ancient ideas than those from the Old World. Before entering the seminary, he worked as a nightclub bouncer in his native Argentina.
It’s usually less clear-cut with the public. Rare instances generate universal outrage, such as the December massacre by terrorists of more than 140 people, mostly children, at a school in Pakistan. More often, the situation and the public’s sense of right and wrong is fuzzier.
That’s fertile ground for those whose job is to control the prism. They “spin” it so the light is refracted more gently and more favorably for their client.
What’s it take to influence perceptions and sway opinion?
- Is your story simple? Or convoluted?
- Is it plausible? Or does it strain credulity?
Those are basic rules. Adhere to them religiously.
There are others, equally critical.
- Silence is a terrible tactic. It makes you look guilty, even if you aren’t.
- Can you shift the focus? Better for the media, because they get a fresh angle and that means a bigger byline. Better for you than dealing directly with an uncomfortable issue.
The secret of Crisis & Reputation Management isn’t picking your fights. It’s winning them.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.
If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog, Insights on High-Stakes PR.
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.”
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net