Crisis Management: It's Like Being Arrested

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9 Responses

  1. Windypundit says:

    Buying a car works a little like this too. You've got the money that they want, and you're meeting in their office, so you can always just go home and come back. No matter what they say, the deal will be just as good tomorrow. So if you feel any pressure to complete the deal now, it's because they are manipulating you. And they're not doing that for your benefit.

  2. Jag says:

    You really need to put this on your business card:

    In case of Emergency turn over for instructions


  3. Bottom line, the club members balked at the notion. There might have been a "pissing in the pool" issue at work here too, if just the thought of the possibility of it. Which, well, that would certainly change the "complexion and atmosphere", wouldn't it?

  4. Linus says:

    Something that has helped me to explain this principle to clients in my practice is that I have felt this panic myself. I remember distinctly the paranoia, the rapid heartbeats, the monster butterflies, each one screaming "TELL THEM YOU DIDN'T DO IT, TELL THEM YOU DIDN'T DO IT!!" (as an unrelated matter of fact, I didn't do it.) It takes a mighty act of will to take some deep breaths and realize that no, you're not actually on the cusp of being shot, and that yes, tomorrow will work just fine to deal substantively with the crap. And in the meantime, you can and should call an attorney.

    I've also shamelessly plagiarized from Ken's earlier post about it when talking to clients. So, you know, that's also helped. :)

  5. jack fate says:

    The problem with a lot of racists – overt and/or subtle, is that they tend to not be that bright to begin with. Their bigotry is probably defensible in a legal sense, but that John Duesler's knee-jerk response involved known "code words," that have since replaced the slightly more colorful descriptives of old, says a lot about the origins and motivations of Mr. Duesler and the members of the Valley Swim Club than their lack of sound and smart legal advice.

    (BTW, "SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP" was the first post I ever read on this blog – redirected from, I think. Been a regular reader ever since. Even when I want to punch Ken. in the dick after reading a post I vehemently disagree with.)

  6. Rich Rostrom says:

    Taking the devil's advocate side:

    Yes, one may say something really stupid in the grip of panic. Or maybe not. That's a risk, not a certainty.

    On the other side, there is a risk that if one waits 12 or 24 hours to respond to the charge, the hostile interpretation will have already filled public mindspace. Failure to respond will be seen by many as tantamount to agreement.

    There's also the problem that once the story stops being "hot", it will stop being reported. A beautifully phrased and highly effective counterstatement that doesn't get "printed" is not much use. This of course is more likely in a "minor" case that no one cares about the next day. There's a risk that one's "brand" will be irrevocably associated with the initial charge.

    However, it's still a very good idea to stop, think, calm down, and make no statements without review. An hour won't kill anybody, as a rule.

  7. Windypundit says:

    If a member of the press calls you for a statement, ask the nice reporter what his deadline is, then tell him you'll call back in plenty of time. Now hang up and spend some time thinking about what you want to say.

  8. SG says:

    Although I was converted to the "STFU" doctrine by reading several attorneys advocating it, I gotta agree with Rich that in the case of a company in a public scandal that may be dangerous, too. Ken's arguments sure are persuasive, but take for instance the recent outcry against an alleged discrimination on against books related one way or another to homosexuality. IIRC it appeared on a friday. Amazon did not respond before next monday. During the week-end there was ample time for all kinds of speculation and finger-pointing on the 'net…

    Perhaps the nature of the individual/company involved is instrumental here. A swim club is indeed unlikely to suffer much from any kind of internet-age bad buzz online. Amazon, on the contrary, is probably quite vulnerable to that (though they do not seem to have suffered that much, in the end).

    So yeah, for most of us that are neither giants of online sales or president of the US, it's probably better to just STFU. A tight-lipped John Doe must be forgotten more quickly than a talkative, panicked John Doe.

    BTW, great commentary, as always. I wish more journalists wrote like that.

  1. July 23, 2009

    […] Shut Up. July 23, 2009 — carbonfibber Ken from Popehat has a different take on the Valley Swim Club incident I commented about earlier.  Ken likens the crisis management […]