How to Avoid a Crisis Cop-Out

Posted filed under crisis management, Media Relations, Social Media.

Since New York Rep. Anthony Weiner sent scandal to the Twittersphere last weekend, social and traditional media alike are struck with another famous frenzy. As PR pros, our first thoughts and fascinations with the story likely center around our common crisis thought: “Imagine handling his PR now…”

After one photo in one tweet revealed a virtual e-ffair across social media platforms, Weiner denied his direct message vs. public tweet mistake and claimed his online social networking accounts had been hacked.  After story skeptics exposed more, he had no other choice but to come clean and attempt to choose his next move.

There are common lessons that serve as the foundation for crisis communication and PR management. When scandal strikes or chaos ensues, it’s important that we remember to go back to our roots before we dig a deeper hole for credibility to fall into.

Pause and plan. It’s human nature in the heat of the moment where vulnerability is exposed to protect yourself from the shock temporarily. Don’t use a band-aid fix to prolong the inevitable. There’s always time for strategy when you have a plan ready. Think big picture and long-term.

Full disclosure first. The “honesty is the best policy” theory is not just a line. At the end of the day, do you want your client’s constituents to say they can’t trust them for the truth? Be proactive and be the first to say what your public needs to know right away. Then the message is crafted strategically from your client from the start to best handle a bad situation the way you want to. Even though it’s uncomfortable to be the bearer of bad news and to admit to making a mistake, in the long run, respect is worth more than a brief stroll down easy street.

Online lives forever. You can tweet and delete, but each second something is written and live, someone could have seen it. In recent years, the entire world of communications has changed. If you choose to expose yourself online, be prepared to post only what is fair game for the public. You never know when you might accidentally send a public tweet instead of a private DM. Best way to avoid this all together? Don’t post anything online that you don’t want people to see or know!

What else should we remember when handling crisis communications, both in person and online? What other examples can you remember learning from in the past?

Photo credit

This wonderful post was written by

Andrea Bogos Trapani is a partner at Identity, responsible for the growth and management of the firm’s media relations and marketing practice area. Andrea specializes in public relations, media relations and marketing strategies.

Nikki Stephan
Nikki Stephan

This story just keeps getting better - or worse, however you look at it! What I can't understand is why people continue to think they can do stupid things online and get away with it. The story is always the same: They vehemently deny allegations and then finally cave in and admit their wrong doings. Why not 'fess up from the start? Haven't we seen enough examples now of how the public is WAY more forgiving when people confess right away and apologize? Sigh. It's common sense people! Do NOT put anything online, whether it's public or through a private message, that has even the slightest possibility of coming back to haunt you.


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