When to speak up in a crisis

A head of communications I once knew found himself caught up in a major industry scandal with his firm at the eye of a media storm. His working day stretched out. He’d arrive late at home and be off early the next day, working weekends and, even when at home, he’d be fielding calls and emails.

According to him, his wife had identified a curious imbalance between his time at work and his visibility in the press: “The thing I find odd,” his wife told him, “is that you’re spending all the hours dealing with this crisis and yet all I ever see in the press is you saying ‘no comment’. What exactly are you doing at work?”

That’s the curious thing about a crisis. It can suck up the hours but quite often, in media relations anyway, it involves saying very little. Increasingly though, that approach has changed. The growth of social media and the way in which news – particularly bad news – freely surfs the waves, means control by way of a ‘no comment’ is virtually (and literally) impossible.

Speak up …and quickly
People nowadays not only prefer transparency and full disclosure – they demand it. If you’ve nothing to hide, why not take every opportunity to say exactly that. And if you have something to hide, you’d better come out and give your side of events pretty quickly because it will be out sooner or later.

And wouldn’t you prefer to be the one who manages that story?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be spending any less hours in the office managing a crisis, but at least your wife/husband/partner will be able to see and read a bit more from the fruits of your labour.

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