June 17, 2009
Jim Dunn, APR
You Will Learn
• Relationship between reputation and branding
• Avoiding stupid mistakes
• When and where to get crisis help
• Rebuilding a reputation after a crisis
Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself.
• Develop a strategic approach
• Prepare for traditional, new, and social media
• Ethics and leadership count
• Crisis means opportunity
Brand and Reputation
• Your brand is a thought and it exists only in the
minds of the people who matter most to you
• A brand is a perception
Managed or not, you have a brand.
Brand = Reputation = All you have in a crisis
It is inevitable you When the Crisis does come?
will have a crisis:
• Systems fail • Accept that you have a
problem you did not ask for
• People mess up
• Perfection is God’s domain
• Acts of God occur
• Act from your belief system
• A crisis is an opportunity
Sweeping a crisis under the rug will set the rug on fire.
A crisis is an opportunity to validate your brand.
Deal with “Smoldering Issues”
Something Someone No one
isn’t right + knows it + takes
tells. . .or action = Crisis
Staff behavior Front line Relationship
Leadership “Shop talk” Fear
Discipline Records No process
71% of crises smolder before they burst into flames.
81% of shooters tell somebody their plan.
Trying to keep a crisis quiet in 2009 is just crazy!
The Reality of Roles in a Crisis
• You can change roles
• You can move villain to victim
• You can NEVER move from villain to hero
Everyone always thinks their story is unique!
Preparing for the Media
• Anticipate existing & likely scenarios
• Identify key experts
• Craft basic messages in advance
• Select & train the right spokespeople
• Create team to deal with high risk, high impact issues
(finance, boundary, safety, communication, curriculum, student issues)
— Senior Leaders – Human Resources
— Communicators – All Employees
— Legal Community
Research shows that 85% of your sales success is
based on your skill and attitude, only 15% is
based on knowledge.
Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into
English as "my fault" or "my own fault"
A traditional Catholic prayer known as Confiteor
(Latin for "I confess"), recognizes flaws before God
If you don’t say you are sorry, it will NEVER end!
Arrogance – otherwise known as hubris – is the original sin.
• Lawyers will defend you to your last dollar!
– but, good advice is priceless
• Some alligators you don’t know how to fight
• Win in courts, or in the court of public opinion?
• Paradigm and pendulum shifts to know
We are always paid for our suspicion
by finding what we suspect. - Thoreau
Most Important Thing
Three Crisis Questions Every
Leader Must Address
• What happened?
• What does it mean?
• What are we doing about it?
Delivering the Message
• Be accurate, be honest, be confident
• Show concern
• Be specific, use examples
• Keep a record of your messages
• Your best friend is “I Don’t Know”
• Make your point & stop talking
Calm, prepared, relaxed (CPR) answers drive credibility.
What to Expect from Reporters
• Seek simple answers to complex issues
• Increasingly mistrust large institutions
• Assume guilt if you say “No Comment”
NEVER say it!
• Become more aggressive in “Packs”
• Respect directness
Don’t expect objectivity, but demand fairness.
The Courage to Act
• Write your own headline
• When the Captain is scared, the ship is afraid
• Cooling and putting out the fire
• Clean up the debris
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex...
It takes a touch of genius and courage to move in the
opposite direction. - Albert Einstein
• Admit mistakes / move off the front page
• Set baseline data to improvement
• Be transparent -- but not stupid
• Spotlight students, education, and learning
Perfume on dung doesn’t work.
Take Home Thoughts
• Know your core beliefs and values; the response
is the only thing you can control
• There is always common ground between legal
and public relations, find it!
• It’s not your fault, but you may feel guilt
• It is never really over
The only real mistake is the one from
which we learn nothing. _ John Powell
Questions and Answers
• Questions and concerns
• Your real life crisis story in 30 seconds
• What alligators do you think you can’t fight?
Out of great questions intense simplicities emerge.
Jim Dunn, APR firstname.lastname@example.org