Tag Archives: Sofitel

May 20, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

The Crisis Communicator’s Conundrum: When you are the “scene of the crime,” Is Silence the Best Communications Strategy?

Most people understand that if you do the wrong thing, you’ve earned your spot on the front page. A collapsed Ponzi scheme. An airplane somewhere other than a runway. A lawsuit.

But what happens when the actions of others put you in the middle of a story you don’t want to be in….when you are the scene of the proverbial crime, not its perpetrator? Like being the airline when the employee pops the chute and quits over the PA? (Disclosure: jetBlue is a client) Or being the hotel where sexual assault occurred and your employee was the victim? Or the restaurant where the mob boss was shot?

Crisis communications is about communicating, right? Maybe not. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to just be quiet – to duck and let the story pass. Unless you are an enabler to the issue – something in your policies or actions enabled the situation, or could have prevented it – communicating just makes you a bigger part of the story.

Even though your instinct tells you to defend your Company’s honor, the more you communicate, the more you become a part of the story. This is especially true as the news cycle winds down, and the media starts looking for new angles for “day 2” stories.

For those reasons, Sofitel, the employer of the woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by IMF Head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and the site the location of the incident, has managed this crisis perfectly by cooperating fully with authorities and otherwise keeping its head low.

Sometimes the best strategy is to let it pass.