What do you do? Deal with it.
Don’t panic. Some clients have the calmness and presence of mind to avoid this pitfall, but they are the exception. Most have never experienced a crisis, suffer from varying degrees of anxiety, and just want it to go away as fast and as painlessly as possible.
They rely on their lawyers for a guiding hand. The lawyers, in turn, bring PR strategists onto their team to frame the issues and spin the story publicly (not just in the media, but within your business, community, and social circles.) Take control of the rumor mill.
They know that legal disputes aren’t won and lost only in the courtroom. They’re also fought in the court of public opinion. Find the other side’s pain points. Apply pressure and wait for them to cry uncle.
Is the other side sensitive about negative publicity? You can fix that. Cast them in an unflattering light and watch them squirm. This can do wonders to make them see the wisdom of settling quickly and generously. (Sound mean? Keep reading.)
Has the other side seized the upper hand in the media and tarnished your reputation? Turn the tables by redefining the context and shifting the tone in your favor. Do it well, and the other side won’t recover their foothold. (Where did you think the negative things about you are coming from? Everyone has an agenda.)
Did nearly all of your non-profit’s money disappear? How you gonna explain it to donors? First, keep the story from leaking until you’ve restored the funds. Then when you do disclose the problem, you’ve got a positive result to report — and you can reassure donors their gifts are safe.
Turmoil in the boardroom or within management? How you gonna assure investors that it won’t disrupt operations and devalue their investment? Find an angle that’s positive or at least neutral, and make that the story. The turmoil will be relegated to a minor portion, if it’s noted at all.
The lesson: Never let people see you sweat. If you do, you seem anxious and uncertain, and that undermines your credibility.
“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 books on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR (Second Edition” and “A Board Member’s Guide to Crisis PR.”
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