Life Lessons: While I Was Waiting
Hausman Account Manager Kristen Kirkpatrick contributes this illuminating post on how life experiences can influence public relations practices.
To help pay for my college education, I was a server at the Cracker Barrel, a popular chain offering affordable, quick home-cooked meals. While I was studying theories of public relations in the classroom, I was living them on the front lines of the food service industry. Turns out people take their food pretty seriously, and if their chicken and dumplings was going to take 20 minutes instead of the usual seven, I had a potential crisis on my hands.
There were a couple of ways to handle this: I could avoid the table until their meal was ready or I could face the problem head on and deliver the bad news – with another cup of coffee and some complimentary biscuits – and face the consequences. Those consequences, no matter how much I feared them, were never as bad as I thought, and I learned people just want information. I learned if I acknowledged there was a problem and took steps to proactively address it, the customers would leave happy. And leave me a good tip, to boot!
The same holds true for the more consequential crises your firm may face. Chances are your organization will have to address bad news at some time or another. When this happens, I’ve found people have great capacity to forgive if you’re proactive and honest. They are far less inclined to do so if you ignore a problem exists or try to cover it up.
So the next time you’re the bearer of bad news of any kind, communicate it honestly and quickly. Telling your story proactively will prevent the public from assuming the worst.