Is “truth” really knowable? Or is it a fiction we create to reaffirm our beliefs?
Did Bill Cosby repeatedly have non-consensual sex after drugging women? Did police in Ferguson and Brooklyn act rashly and wrongly? Did the CIA torture prisoners at Guantanamo, and was it justified? Did University of Virginia fraternity members gang-rape a female student?
Will we ever know, about any of them?
The public’s answer is far from monolithic. Look closely, and you find many shades of belief. Conservative versus liberal versus those who just want to be left alone. And all those in between.
Want to influence public opinion? Forget about the extremes. Their beliefs are hardened. They are vocal and shrill, and the only voices they want to hear are those they already agree with. They have no interest in discussing merits.
Save your effort for the middle. There you have hope. They don’t feel deeply and are willing to listen — as long as you keep it short and simple. The message must be believable and memorable. It must resonate on a visceral level.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a businessman accused of wrongdoing, a non-profit organization that seems to have mismanaged funds, or a celebrity caught in a compromising situation. You must control the message, not let it control you. You must get out in front and define the story on your terms. And you must stay there by feeding the media “fresh meat” that gives them good bylines and enhances your version of events.
You can’t afford to lose momentum. If you fumble, the other side will pick the ball, and you will be on defense. Not a desirable place, because it’s inherently weak. The other side’s calling the tune, and you’re forced to dance to it.
You have a limited audience and a limited time to influence them. Make the most of it. Because you won’t get a second chance.
“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.
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