Crisis response – spin doctors or Action Jacksons?

On July 6, 2015

During a crisis response, actions will always speak louder than words.

I had an interesting discussion with a client recently.  Caught up in a major issue that has the potential to impact their reputation, they asked me what message I thought they should focus on.

‘Listen, learn and prevent it happening again’ was my response.  Heads nodded in agreement and someone said ‘That’s what we have been saying for the last six months’.

So I asked:

  • What have you heard?
  • What have you learnt?
  • And what are you doing to prevent it from happening again?

There was silence.

Words are not enough to save a reputation.  They must be a precursor to intended action or a recap on historical action.  So we mapped some possible actions that would achieve the response objectives.

These actions will become the foundation for the narrative the organisation will have during the next phase of the crisis response.

Without actions, words are empty vessels that carry no weight in the reputational debate.  To be successful, we must first be proud of our response efforts.  Then we can let people know what we have done.

Sometimes in our roles as PR professionals, as the custodians of our organisations’ relationships, we must point this out rather than being expected to write the magical script that will make people believe we have done the right thing, rather than having done it.

Our goal must be to do the right thing before others determine what the right thing is.