Dear Cathy –
Thanks for asking. It appears you have now presented me with two available paths to traverse in answering your question: 1) tell the truth or 2) tell something you’d believe as the truth. It would be naïve to assume a wayward path of mistruths is the best option, and yet so many choose to pursue that journey.
Too often, those with public profiles confuse the opportunity to manage their reputation through messaging with the belief that they fully control it. The reality is that proactive engagement is indeed critical, but not infallible. An attempt to fabricate an outcome that strays from the facts can actually inflict long-term damage to a person or brand. The most effective tactics for recovery should start and end with the truth, and resolutely convey the following qualities:
1. Sincerity. No matter how you respond, you should not only sound genuine, but actually be genuine. During the most recent presidential election, Gallup reported that distrust in the media reached an all-time high at 60%. Before you even engage, your target audience will be skeptical of your message. Don’t give them a reason to justify that cynicism. The truth is always the right answer.
2. Degree. Identify the gravity of the issue and address with an appropriate degree of remorse. As Dov Seidman, founder of the Learning Resource Network (LRN) has written about and discussed on a number of occasions, fault can only be followed by resolution and forgiveness or more fault. If you want to rectify a situation, do it with meaning or do nothing at all.
3. Finality. Address the issues to which you can provide a meaningful response. Incomplete answers lead to partial absorption of information and ultimately unclear conclusions for your audience.
Now, I have not forgotten the question. All of this is to inform my response.
I have been absent, and for that, my sincerest apologies. My absence was borne from dedication to the team, but lost in it all – you, my green-eyed readers. From here on out, what you will receive is a thoroughly devoted and engaged GiGi, with presence of mind and attention to the issues that need solving!
I intend to stay on message. Do stick around.