There’s an old adage in Crisis PR: “Lose focus, and you lose control. Lose control, and you lose.”
A prominent litigator smiled when he heard it. “My version is quite similar: ‘Never let the other lawyer run your case.'”
A transactional attorney chimed in: “He who drafts, rules.”
Doesn’t matter whether your audience is an IRS auditor. A Board of Directors. Consumers or community groups. A court of law. Or the court of public opinion.
Nuance is decisive when success or failure lies less with what the facts really are than what they can be made to look like.
“Controlling?” asked a young, fresh-eyed colleague. “That doesn’t sound very nice.”
Time for a life lesson.
“Big difference between being in control and being controlling. Same with guiding perception and being manipulative. The first of each has a positive connotation, the latter a negative.”
“Is there a difference in reality?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes not. But there’s only one measure that really matters: Are you achieving what your client needs? If so, you’re doing your job right. It has nothing to do with being nice or not. Simply with being effective. You must control the situation, or it will control you.”
Defining tone matters. When you do, all else follows: The image created (a positive settlement in which everyone wins versus a bitter battle that leaves scars). Whether the language is reasonable or shrill. Whether the public shrugs and moves on (good), or feels compelled to pick sides (bad).
The transactional attorney was right.
Recently, a nasty and protracted dispute was settled and needed to be announced publicly. The client’s Crisis PR team volunteered to draft the statement, and the CEO agreed immediately: “It’s a basic lesson from first-year law school: If you do the drafting, you get 70% of what you want.”
We got 95%.
It’s your choice: Be in control, or be controlled.
“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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