CRISIS GURU #34
Real Time Answers to Real Time Questions
In his Crisis Guru Commentaries, Jim Lukaszewski provides real answers to real questions about your most critical communications problems and issues.
This issue was triggered by the question below.
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TODAY’S TOPIC: OVERCOMING OPPOSITION
I have two questions based on today’s IABC Webinar:
With respect to Question 1, if you try to carve out a small group from the larger one, and restrict communication to just that group, it will get out rather quickly and you’ll not be trusted by either group—the small one or the larger group. It’s simply impossible to segment audiences this way. The word will spread to those who care wherever they are. What’s important to remember is that audience members select the things they are interested in, whatever other audiences they happen to belong to. Yes, people always belong to more than one audience.
The trust loss that would occur in both groups is the direct result of your first strategy—attempting to limit communication. Let the audiences do that for you.
Honorable people and companies answer all the questions they’re asked, whatever the source is. By answering these questions and doing it publicly―that is, put it on a Web site so everyone knows what the questions are and what the answers are, you are putting a platform in place that essentially disenfranchises the critics’ anger and their credibility in other venues. My advice, if you know what the questions are, is to get the answers ready and put them all out publicly where people can see them, very promptly.
Frankly, the more the critics argue with you, the better the opportunity you have to tell your organization’s story. This is what will keep your base in place with the people you care about—your employees and others.
If you fail to respond, or worse than that, try to muzzle your employees, they will talk, and for their own benefit even make things up, because they think they are helping you. Employees feel obligated to talk. They like their organization and they want to defend it. But, why should they be put in that position? Those who get the big bucks need to begin speaking, right away.
As for Question 2, the negative blog posting, blogs carry almost more weight now than the media. Sometimes management might say that you don’t have to respond because blogs have low readership, but the problem is that they have high believership and much higher positives. And the public believes what it reads and sees on the Web by a large margin more than they believe any other news medium. They believe newspapers least of all.
Remember, you empower the critics and disgruntled every time you put some restriction on people’s ability to talk. You’ll find that when you allow people to talk, fewer people actually do talk. The moment you start answering questions from employees and critics in a public way, employees are the first to stop talking. They go into “I don’t care mode.” The critics will continue the questioning because that’s what critics do. Your organization is simply going to have to get used to it, and engage and respond. As frustrating as this is, it is far more dangerous to ignore these aggressive individuals. They have real power, and there is almost one case every month where a determined individual, who was ignored, disparaged, disrespected, or discredited by the head of a company, was able to bring the head of that company down. Things have changed, and bosses need to recognize the real power these new media based critics and victims have.
Hope this is helpful.
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