INTERVIEWER: If you're in a student loan industry or in another industry under pressure, you may call in the services of our next guest . Eric Dyson Hall is in the business of making bad news go away : he's co-authored a new book called " Damage control" why everything you know about crisis management is wrong.
Mr. Dyson Hall was initiated into the world of public relations in the Reagan White House and he has some different advice for his clients about how to deal with a crisis.
MR. DYSON HALL: In one of my chief criticisms of crisis management is through these rigid Mother Goose rules of the PR industry applies that are wrong!
INTERVIEWER: Such as?
MR. DYSON HALL: Always apologize , always be concerned , always instantly recall your products . This rigid dogma is simply wrong !Now there are certain general rules that we follow ..
INTERVIEWER: Let me just check out why there're wrong : "always apologize" - that's something that's often said about politicians for example . If you get in some scandal , just say you did something wrong so you're sorry , get it over with , don't let it go on and on and on .
Why is that the wrong advice ?
MR. DYSON HALL: Sometimes it's the right advice but often it's wrong.
What we would like to believe is that apologies are affective , the fact is we don't see a lot of evidence in that .
Jim Bakker apologized and lost his pulpit.
" I must apologize " lost his job .
INTERVIEWER: Don Mynes the radio talkshow host did say he was sorry many many times what should he have done if he was going to you for advice ?
MR. DYSON HALL: First of all I think he was toast the minute the words came out of his mouth . The track record of recovering from racial remarks is awful , basically because corporate advertisers do not want to be in a battle with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson never ever ever , because they know they won't win !
INTERVIEWER: Well, talk a little about some of the techniques you do apply .
MR. DYSON HALL: Well I think in our culture whoever attacks - wins , whoever defeats - loses.
If I came into your studio and said look listeners I want everybody to know that Steve stole my wallet but suddenly all eyes and ears around you .
INTERVIEWER: And even if I say I didn't steal your wallet , I am still talking about stealing your wallet !
MR. DYSON HALL: Exactly! Every crisis has the three characters : there's a villain , there is a victim and there's a vindicator and the only way the story the crisis changes is if you are able and you're not always able to change the characters , example: Wendy's the best food company was accused of selling chili that had a finger in it!
The narrative of that story didn't change until it was revealed that somebody put a finger in the chili.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah initially Wendy's was the villain , somebody out there eating was the victim and you're waiting for a vindicator ,some investigation!
MR. DYSON HALL: That's exactly right and so a lot of times when you're not seen as the perpetrator of the crisis you are forgiven far more easily than if you were seen as the villain.
INTERVIEWER: You mean they held on long enough to get out of the perpetrator role and maybe become sort of a victim after a while?
MR. DYSON HALL: They were essentially a corporate victim.
It's hard to be a corporate victim but they were saying recall the product and they didn't and they were absolutely right not to.
INTERVIEWER: If you are truly innocent , you are saying, find it out , insist on your innocence because you may lose your chances otherwise but I would imagine there are people who would take that advice and even if they're totally guilty they're going to deny it . Stonewall , Lied ...
MR. DYSON HALL: Well you are dealing with one of the most sensitive points of my business which is the clients I don't take .
You can't take someone who is hateful and who is totally guilty and who has no interest in repenting and put lipstick on a pig.
INTERVIEWER: There must be colleagues in your business who feel otherwise I might say for example even a guilty person needs a lawyer and maybe a guilty person also needs a PR agent.
MR. DYSON HALL: and I disagree I believe that the Constitution allows you a ride to a legal defense, the constitution does not allow you the right to a good reputation.
INTERVIEWER: Eric Diesel all is the author of damage control thanks very much for coming by
MR. DYSON HALL: Thanks for having me.