June 9, 2011 1 Comment
I came across a great article written by Jessica Klieman titled, “5 Tips for Handling a PR Crisis Like Weinergate” (in case you heaven’t heard, it’s the law that all political scandals must have a ‘-gate’ suffix ever since Nixonian times) that gives five tactics for what to do when bad private behavior goes public. I’d like to add a sixth.
Briefly (as Jessica does a great job describing each) the steps are:
- Assess – Objectively examine the situation to determine its “legs” and maximum potential impact.
- Admit – As I wrote previously, the truth will out. Once a secret is no longer a secret, own the message and ‘fess up.
- Address – A full ‘mes culpa’ is required. Make it complete of face the death of a thousand cuts.
- Atone – Make things as right as you can especially to those directly affected by your actions.
- Adapt – Have a game plan for what happens next. Note: the basis for any game plan should have already been designed as part of your crisis management contingency plan. Waiting until after the fur starts to fly is too late.
I’d add a sixth “A” – Abridge - state the facts; state your case; cover the five “A”s’ and retreat.
While thought noble to stand up and take the slings and arrows thrown your way (perhaps in an attempt to “get it all over with”), just as in most of life when it comes to crisis management, “less is more.” Find that sweet spot of enough time to cover your “A”s (so to speak) then leave. Cut things off too short you run the risk of coming across as abrupt, insincere and unrepentant. Stay too long, you maybe viewed as pathetic or pitiful (“Methinks the politico doth repent too much”). At his presser Weiner went on and on, repeating his message to repetitive questions that morphed from inquiry into condemnation. Is that the lasting image you want associated with an attempt to come clean?
Messed up? ‘Fess up; Retreat; Rebuild.