It was a mid-afternoon sticky day. The air hung in the office dangling from the heat. No one wanted to be there, but there was work to be done. Something was brewing. The CEO called me into his office. I always got nervous when summoned me for “no reason.”
I knocked on his door, “Come in!,” he yelled. “Did you hear? A competitor just let me know that they’re getting covered by ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. What the $!?$!$? Why aren’t we (being interviewed)?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I’ll call ABC. But first, let’s think about what we’re going to say. I wouldn’t recommend we message from anger. Let’s find out if it’s even true, and then strategize our approach on messaging and delivery.”
Does this sound common to you? Probably so... So many start-ups that we work with are deep in the weeds emotionally and financially with their companies that they will go to any length to fight for it. But, it takes a steady hand, and objective POV, to take a step back and evaluate any situation before it blows up.
When you feel stuck in this situation, ask yourself these questions.
1. What do I know?
2. Where (or from whom) can I learn more?
3. Who’s the audience for the response? Is there more than one?
4. What can we say?
5. When and how should we say it?
And, yes, the more people in your executive ranks who you can get to buy into this way of thinking and problems solving, the better you will respond, not react, and be well positioned for success.
How did the ABC interview go? Well, we ended becoming the lead of the story!
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