Business & Commercial Real Estate Financing
The Real Crisis With Crisis PR
One of the fastest growing areas of the public relations business is crisis management, or crisis communications, or crisis PR, or issues management, depending on what you want to call it. Simply put, crisis PR is the art, and I do mean art, of helping a corporations, organization or individual manage their image when a crisis strikes.
Ask Tiger Woods what it feels like to go from the most beloved, respected athlete in the world to someone continuously ridiculed and looked down upon virtually overnight. Aside from what this cost him financially in endorsements, being at the center of a scandal that he endured also takes it toll emotionally and personally.
You can say the same with Toyota. For decades, Toyota has built its global reputation on product quality. It may have taken 50 years of hard work to become the largest automaker in the world with the best quality rating, and a few short weeks to tear that image apart to the point where people now think twice about buying a Toyota.
The lesson: Building a good brand takes decades. Destroying that brand can be done over night.
But here is the real lesson , and we all learned it when the Watergate scandal broke. For those who are old enough to have lived through it (and if not it is all over the internet) Watergate was a scandal that resulted in the resignation of Richard Nixon as president of the United States. But Watergate was a classic lesson in how not to manage a scandal, a lesson all of us in crisis PR have come to learn from.
The lesson is clear. There never was any real evidence that Richard Nixon was involved in the Watergate crime of planning the break-in into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. However, his crime, which resulted in his resignation, was his involvement in the cover-up of the crime.
People by nature are forgiving. They can forgive a corporate or personal mistake, well maybe Bernie Madoff is an exception. But what people can’t forgive is when someone or a corporation tries to cover it up. More damage has been done to the reputations of corporations and individuals for their attempts to cover-up misdeeds than actually doing the misdeed.
If someone purposely tries to hurt investors or customers, an apology might not be enough and more concrete actions usually are in order to make things right. But if someone hurts customers or loved ones and then lies about it and covers it up, that is when the crisis usually sets in full blast.
That is why good crisis PR people advise coming clean, telling the truth and making amends rather than making excuses. It may be hard to admit fault, but in this age of the internet, YouTube and cable television, it is almost impossible to escape the viral effect of being caught in a lie and worse, being caught trying to cover it up.
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