You hear the same questions every day, from non-profits and companies:
- Where’d all the money go?
- You mean those laws apply to us, too?
- Can she really sue us for harassment? It was just a joke.
- Hank was supposed to take care of that. Is it our fault he didn’t?
The answers: Down the rabbit hole. Yes, they do. Yes, she can. Yes, it is.
The better question is, How did we get into this mess?
Figuring that out is painful, but it’s essential. Be brutally honest. Anything less, and you’re in denial.
The biggest challenge to honesty is an insular culture. This is true regardless of size.
The larger the organization, the more protective it will be. So much is at stake financially, and repercussions will ripple through the bureaucracy and may affect you. (Think GM and Toyota.)
Small organizations are defensive because they have less to lose. It will take only a minor event to put the entire operation at risk, and those who may get hurt are your friends. (Think start-ups and non-profits whose very existence relies on the next customer through the door or the next donor who sends a check.)
Or individuals whose highly polished reputations can be quickly and permanently tarnished. (Think Donald Sterling and Bill Cosby.)
Ultimately, Crisis & Reputation Management is forward-looking: Finding a way to protect the client — whether from outside forces or from himself.
But before you can get there, the Crisis PR person must know what happened in the past: What got you into this mess.
- Not minding the till? Happens more than you think. Who was responsible for the accounting and monitoring the accounts? If you’re not blessed with the gift of numbers, then get someone on it who is.
- Run afoul of labor laws by shaving workers’ time? No excuse if it’s purposeful. Ignorance is no defense, either. Make sure you are working with a labor attorney to keep abreast with the ever-changing laws.
- Being sued because supervisor’s sense of humor is risque or culturally insensitive? We will all stick our foot in our mouths eventually, even if unintentionally. If this is a chronic problem, consider a refresher in cultural and sensitivity training because not everyone sees things the way you do.
Once we know the past, we can fix the future.
“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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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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