by Hank Sheinkopf
I’ve been a communications strategist for most of my life, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to handle my clients’ crises through my public relations firm. We’ve successfully controlled catastrophes for celebrities, political officials and candidates, and corporations, and we’ve turned some terrible situations into positive press.
We live in a new world of crisis by misunderstanding, of acts of commission and omission, of scandal by word and deed. It is a world where innuendo and rumor—once solely the province of gossip columnists — have now become the stuff of internet communication and social media truth.
Public figures, corporate leaders, and non-profit executives are the targets. What used to be well-timed and targeted campaigns against competitors, with rules, are now lawless. Multiple social media and non-social media outlet placements by competitors, in many cases, become the source of the news and for the news. What is unchecked and unverified makes its way to the traditional press who are also panicked by the unending news cycle, which sometimes appears to be less truth-directed and more “get it out before the competitors can accuse us of aged laziness or new media misunderstanding.”
Here’s what you begin to do when they turn on the heat. Let’s call it Crisis Management 101.
The first response is generally panic. The reporter or reporters, or even an entire flock of media types have found their way to your phone, your door, your website, your email.
They’ve got questions. And that’s when the mistakes begin.