Reading tea leaves is a national pastime. It infuses all aspects of our lives as we try to interpret the world around us.
What’s the back-story when a company or non-profit announces that a longtime executive has resigned to pursue personal interests?
What forces are at play, and what’s at stake, when 50-50 business partners go toe-to-toe over fundamental strategies and control of their company?
On a personal level, what did Sally (or Sam) really mean? Should what they said or did be taken at face value? Or is there a subtext?
There’s a reason you have two ears and one mouth. You learn more by listening than by talking. So listen closely.
On the flip side, the calculus is different when you’re the one sending the message. It’s up to you to steer others in the direction you want — and it’s their role to interpret what you’re really up to.
First, you must know precisely what you want to achieve. Then you must create a storyline and imagery that will get you there by controlling the public’s perception.
Should you be transparent? Or nonspecific and opaque?
Is your story plausible? Does it compel? Do you come across as authoritative and trustworthy?
This is the point at which time and caution collide, and when the pressure is greatest. You feel you must act quickly, but you realize excessive haste is a grave danger.
You only get one first chance. So it’s critical that you deliver the right message the right way the first time.
The consequences of an ill-considered initial message are messy. The efforts necessary to repair it are intensive and time-consuming.
But despite knowing all this, clients too often wait to seek counsel until after damage happens. Sadly, foresight is the exception.
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“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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