Much of the conventional wisdom about damage control and crisis PR is self-serving, self-congratulatory, self-deceiving, and flat out wrong. And no one knows it better than Eric Dezenhall and John Weber, who have helped countless companies, politicians, and celebrities get out of various kinds of trouble.
If you're facing a lawsuit, a sex scandal, a defective product, or allegations of insider trading, other PR experts will tell you to stay positive, get your message out, and everything will be just fine. But happy talk doesn't help much during a real crisis, and it's easy to lose sight of your real priorities. In a trial, for instance, you might want the whole world to think you're a wonderful person, but all that matters is whether 12 jurors think you're guilty.
Dezenhall and Weber are especially dismayed by flacks who compare every problem to the famous Tylenol/cyanide episode of 1982: supposedly proof that making nice, admitting fault, and taking immediate corrective action is all you need to do. In reality, Tylenol's situation was nothing like the typical corporate crisis.
The authors share many powerful lessons, including:
- The difference between a nuisance, a problem, and a crisis
- When you can't get them to like you, get them not to attack you
- It's not about facts; it's about symbols
- The best case studies are the ones you'll never hear about
- Good deeds won't position you out of the line of fire