The Devil and Miss Jones

Use your peacetime wisely.

Prepare now, before you are under the klieg lights. Ask your communications team what they would do if under attack and prepare all of your resources now. Once you are under attack by the angry mob, few if any third parties will volunteer to be in the line of fire; controlling the narrative will be a near impossibility. Since all arguments are largely emotional, not factual, the truth will not set you free.

It’s not the crisis plan but the crisis DNA.

It’s not that crisis plans are useless, but they tend to give a false sense of assurance. When airbags were first mandatory in cars, fatality rates didn’t initially go down because drivers felt impervious. Crisis plans tend to leave us thinking we are ready when the only thing that gets us truly ready are the crisis training drills. While not what the late Senator John McCain meant at the time, “Drill, baby, drill,” is wise advice. The more you test your crisis response, the more your teams will be ready when the time comes…and it will come. Nota bene, under fire, most people freeze.

Fiddle before Rome burns.

You cannot scenario-plan for every scenario. Do you think Goodyear had a plan for a viral HR slide photographed and taken out of context? But you can identify third party supporters now, who you engage and embrace; draft dark web pages which have helpful content which you can post later if and when needed; locate pictures that helpfully tell your stories (people view, they don’t read); describe your narrative, history, diversity, culture and so on so it is already accurately and helpfully on display; produce videos which engage third parties, show your culture, portray your narrative, etc.; implement a strategic optimization campaign so that your messages are at the top of Google (along with your third parties and videos) and on and on. Crisis preparation is a marathon — not a miracle. Preparing ahead of time is the only way to win. In the Goodyear example, there were dealers who avoided most of the criticism, but more so because of how they prepared and instantly responded, rather than how they responded after the fire began.

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