Worth reading: Damage Control

Just picked up a copy of Damage Control: Why everything you know about crisis management is wrong. Book review coming in a couple weeks.

Damage Control should be a mandatory read for all PR types and senior leaders. Challenges conventional wisdom around managing a crisis (surrender, give in to demands, get folks to like you and maybe they’ll forgive you).

The authors point out that in a crisis, there’s usually a victim, a villian and a vindicator. You’re in for a rough ride if you’re the villian. And asking for forgiveness works if your bad behavior is believed to be out of character.

Sometimes, you have to fight back in a crisis and not play nice. You won’t get everyone to like you. In fact, there will be individuals and groups who hate you, want to crush and humiliate you. The authors suggest reminding anyone who’s about to ignite a crisis for self-serving reasons that you too carry a big stick and there are risks involved.

So it’s always important to ask who’s leading the charge against you or your organization and what they stand to gain. Rolling over, playing nice and hoping that public opinion swings in your favour may not be the smartest approach.

The authors also take a fresh look at the oft-cited handling of the Tylenol cyanide tampering case. They point out that the crisis was inflicted by someone outside of Johnson & Johnson — a sniper-fire crisis and the company was cast as of the victims. The crisis would of played out a whole lot differently had J&J been the ones poisoning folks by accident or through negiligence. Also worth noting it took J&J 8 days to decide to pull Tylenol off store shelves. Retailers like CVS and Walgreen’s had stopped stocking the capsules a day after the first death. And the tamper-proof bottles were already planned before the crisis hit.

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

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