Know When to Shut Up

Nature abhors a vacuum, and human beings in crisis mode hate silence.

If you or your organization are under attack, dealing with a catastrophe, or are just deeply embarrassed by something, the usual response is, “Say something! Say anything! Tell somebody something somehow!”

But plenty of times in a crisis – at least early on – it’s best to ignore that panicked voice inside your head, not to mention the panicking people all around you.

I’m not saying to close your eyes, cross your fingers, and wait for things to blow over. And if it’s a matter of the health and safety of employees, your customers or your community, you certainly can’t just be silent. There are also times when you are legally required to communicate immediately.

But putting out a statement, holding a press conference, or sitting for a media interview in haste might not help the situation and, in fact, can exacerbate the problem. It might even turn what’s really a minor issue into a full-blown crisis.

In most cases, you don’t have an actual crisis on your hands until it lasts two new cycles. If you’ve got a one day issue, don’t turn it into something bigger by communicating too much. If you can weather a single newspaper story or one report on the nightly news, take it as a win. Less is better.

But how do you know when to shut up? When you’re in the middle of it, every storm feels like a major hurricane.

That’s why you need a trusted partner who knows you and knows your business – and most importantly knows the media and public environment – who can give you an outside perspective on whether an all-hands-on-deck communications campaign is the right strategy in this instance.

It might seem crazy to pay a communications agency to tell you when not to communicate. But really good counselors don’t just craft the best message and create the best plan to disseminate it – we also know why and when you should speak.

Find yourself in a crisis? Laurens Group is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our services and offerings.

About the Author

Laurens Group

Laurens Group is a creative advocacy firm that leverages digital communication to engage, persuade, and activate.