Bimbo Banter


Looking for the Hero


  • Leadership
  • July 9, 2019
  • by Sally Ann Rivera

06.06.2013 a true hero oms

When audiences can choose to watch Netflix while getting their news on Twitter, what’s to incentivize them to tune in to the evening news? Reporters have responded with longform, sensational investigative stories. In a crisis situation, this means they have only one goal: find a hero. The facts of your story will matter little in light of the easiest motive to portray. The solution? Effective crisis communication helps paint you and your company as the hero in every story. 

I recently spoke on a crisis communication panel to a group of attorneys and law students studying litigation management. The students faced a hypothetical scenario of a health care system with a DOJ complaint attracting reporters covering issues of health care fraud. We like to tell our clients that, in a crisis, “We don’t breathe without the attorneys.” 

Lessons for the students and your company include: 

· Know your audience. In the event of an employee accident, death or criminal investigation, your first audience is usually your employees. Draft your message and select your communication channels for distribution with your priority audience in mind. Reporters, whether singing your praises (rarely) or trying to paint you as the big, bad company are never your audience. We view reporters as a way to reach our audience. They are the channel which through you communicate. 

· Our first rule: no mistakes. One of the most common communication mistakes is repeating and denying negative words and charges, what we call “BIMBO comments.” These denials only further cement the negative word or charge in your audience’s mind. Have a list of good words, brand values and examples you can point to in a time of crisis – and make sure they’re true. Using our Acknowledgment PhraseTM technique will help you take control of any interaction, no matter how aggressive or negative it begins. 

· Understand the power of competitive material. The CEO of the hypothetical health care system was widely-respected for her ethics and integrity. This worked in the company’s favor. However, the issue at hand was ensuring this same level of integrity reverberated throughout the whole organization. Make sure you can point to examples of your company’s values in action – preferably in video form on your website and social media channels –before you face your own “bet the farm case.” 

· Plan for the future. Events never happen in silos – understand and evaluate the impact on other departments. Attorneys are very interested in thinking about this from a risk and insurance perspective; we care about communicating the message clearly and effectively with your audience. Evaluate what could be coming next and anticipate the questions. 

You can be the hero of your own story, as long as you have a plan. Advanced preparation is the only super power you need to combat the inevitable crisis looming on the horizon.



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