Like Fish in a Barrel

To deflect accusations,redefine shades of gray.

To deflect accusations,
redefine shades of gray.

“Why do you always pick on politicians?” a friend asked.

“Such easy targets. Hardly a week goes by…” the reputation manager replied matter-of-factly.

“But don’t you sometimes feel you’re being one-sided?” the friend persisted.

“Not at all. I’m equal opportunity. Never a shortage of people of all persuasions who do dumb things. It infects all our national pastimes — politics, sports, celebrities. It’d be a sad commentary on life if it weren’t so perversely humorous. Their attempts to explain away problems are so often so weak.”

This has not been a good month for the powerful and once-powerful.

  • FIFA was enveloped by a huge and expanding scandal over allegations of institutionalized bribery.
  • The NFL’s image suffered further damage over “deflategate” and the rehashing of its inept handling of domestic violence by players.
  • Competing for headlines as the scandal du jour was the indictment of J. Dennis Hastert, a former Speaker of the House, for paying hush money and lying to FBI investigators.

What brings the powerful to bad endings?

Money’s almost always a factor. The nearer you are to it, the more you feel you deserve. Then there’s power, the aphrodisiac that attracts the naive and the schemers. Power also seduces those who have it into believing they’re untouchable.

Choosing the best response is always delicate.

Defiance is rarely good. It makes you look angry and out of control. (This was the stance taken by FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter who disclaimed responsibility and said FIFA perhaps should do a better job of policing itself. He also claimed the scandal was just sour grapes by the U.S. and England for not being selected to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. Not terribly reassuring.)

Are you innocent as the driven snow? Indignation can be more effective, if you have credibility. “How dare you even suggest that about me!” (That puts the accuser on the defensive.)

But beware: Absolute innocence is also a rarity. More likely, you’re somewhere in between.

The trick for Crisis PR is defining those shades of gray in such a way that the client is reflected in the best light.


“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.

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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