Spent nearly half of this week ensuring that a certain issue wouldn’t appear in the media for a client of my crisis PR agency, and happily I can report – nothing was published. As such, I thought to share an excerpt from my new PR book: “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations”:
Life Happens: Manage Crises Immediately: Problems Ain’t Going Away on Their Own, and You Can’t Outwork Them – “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” —Henry Kissinger
Working in PR is often like working the ER night shift on a 100-degree summer weekend. You never know what’s going to happen next. Product recall. Sexual harassment. Not wanting to rat to the police. Involvement in a shooting. Bankruptcy. Corporate merger. Affair with a secretary. Fraud. Government investigation. Protests at corporate headquarters. We have worked through all of these situations and more with our clients. I’ve helped major corporations, small businesses, and celebrities get through a fair number of troubling times, from financial scandals at a Fortune 100 company, to countless indictments and accusations, to arrests at New Jersey construction companies, to trials and legal proceedings for celebrities like Lil’ Kim, as well as average Joes.
One key lesson learned from these experiences is that even though there are times when you can get away with burying your head in the sand, a crisis that brings media attention isn’t one of them. Drop what you’re doing and address crisis situations as they happen; it’s impossible to sit behind a computer and “outwork” catastrophes. Your entire business, or your whole life, can be changed by one article or one rumor, true or untrue. And that can leave a permanent negative hit to your company’s reputation. The old scandal may appear at the top of your Google search results for a very long time; even if you use a great search engine optimization campaign, bad news can be found, and will forever live online. Worried? You should be.
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” —Warren Buffett, investor