gm-debacleIn report after report, describing the recent issues GM has been working through, the word “debacle” has come up again and again. While most may not be able to precisely describe that term, the term carries with it an ominous “implied meaning” that Ronn Torossian says, is in many ways, worse than a more specific description.

Debacle implies both intent and ineptitude, which in itself creates a problem when trying to craft an effective PR response. Ideally, you want to be able to address a single issue at time, to fire back with positives and counter the negatives. But, when you are facing accusations of being both intentionally negligent and habitually incompetent, the Big Question becomes, “What do you go after first?”. This question becomes even more intensely problematic when you consider that both of these accusations are being leveled simultaneously.

When alleged to have made some mistakes, you can say you are aware of issues within your protocol that created negative outcomes, and that you are addressing these. Then, you can move on, having delivered a rational response to revealed mistakes. Or, if you are dealing with systematic flaws which make you appear inept, one can respond by assuring consumers that these flaws have been addressed in the most comprehensive possible way.

However, if the accusations and allegations are both specific and system-wide, the PR question becomes one of priorities. No matter which you choose, there will be vociferous critics. Therefore, your PR response must be both actively engaged in resolving the first issue while also prepared to manage the negative response from those who believe you should have addressed the other issues first. Ignoring one issue and addressing the other won’t help because it allows someone else to control that aspect of the media conversation.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.