There are scandals you survive, and scandals you don’t.
Deal with it quickly, and you have the best chance of putting it behind you. Be slow to react, and the damage will be deeper.
Think Hillary Clinton, running the U.S. State Department on her personal email. Or suspended NBC Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams, embellishing his role as a war correspondent in Iraq and what he allegedly witnessed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Of course, there was also NBC, whose own reputation was tarnished in the Williams fiasco.
For all of them, their initial responses were squishy and unconvincing. Maybe they hoped it would blow over, but it rarely does. That’s almost always a bad bet because inaction or weak action is interpreted as guilt.
The result is Chinese water torture or death by a thousand cuts. In either case, not something to be desired. It’s unrelenting. Once the media has a taste of blood, it will dig for more. If there is anything to be found, it will be uncovered.
More decisive action was taken at the University of Oklahoma. As soon as a video surfaced showing fraternity members singing a racist chant on a bus during an official event, the university president wasted no time severing all relations with the 159-year-old fraternity and ordering it shut down with only hours notice. Some students were expelled.
Fast action short-circuits the furor. If not a one-day story, at least it will fade more quickly.
The underlying issue isn’t what really happened. At the end of the day, Truth (with a capital T) is subjective. Plus there’s always selective truth.
What’s most important is how to tell the story to best protect reputation — for you, your business, your non-profit.
You’ve spent years building your reputation. Don’t let it slip away.
“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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