An important PR function, crisis management is essentially the strategic diffusion of situations that may cause damage to a brand and/or client’s reputation in the public eye. PR proffessionals are responsible for controlling the image and perception of their clients. For this reason, it is important to brainstorm and have a plan in place in the event that something dire and unforseen occurs.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to public perception is that honesty and transparency is key. After all, the public is willing to forgive and even forget as long as one is honest about their mistake and takes steps to remedy the problem. Especially with the wide spread use of the internet these days, if there is questionable behavior or lies being perpetuated, they will be sniffed out.
Let’s use the Tiger Woods debacle as an example. After the revelation that he had been carrying on copious affairs with multiple women over many years, and after news broke regarding the altercation that he had with his wife, Tiger Woods continued to exhibit what i like to call “Studio Silence”. Rather than addressing and diffusing the situation in the media with a press statement, Woods’ team chose to ignore the situation and try to remedy it behind closed doors. Bad strategy my dear. Although it was a personal matter, Tiger Woods is a very public figure and the assumption of privacy in those situations, unfair or not, is almost non-existent. i believe Tiger Woods, like Kobe Bryant before him (one could almost forget his Colorado rape snafu – almost . . .) should have quickly released a statement acknowledging the situation and then have asked for the public to respect his privacy during this difficult time (how many times have we heard that statement before?!). Without a public statement, the media had free reign to run wild with the story and increase speculation that would prove to irreparably damage his image. And now look, Tiger can’t win a tournament to save his life anymore and has becoming the laughing stock of the golf world. Was his publicist of vacation or taking a nap during that whole embarrasing situation? Seems like it.
Perhaps i should give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, PR firms have even been known to drop high profile clients when they refuse to adhere to their advice. PR professionals have a reputation to protect as well and cannot be associated with embarrassing situations that they cannot control either. When R&B singer Chris Brown chose to wreak havoc on the Good Morning America site after an interviewer asked questions he did not want to answer, his publicist Tammy Brook dropped him like a hot potato. Apparently Tammy didn’t want her good name to go down with that sinking ship. Smooth move.