Why Lying is not a Crisis Strategy

By Mark Macias

Business owners, politicians and entrepreneurs can all learn a lot about handling a crisis by watching how the Trump administration continues to handle – or mishandle – the Russia collusion investigation.

I’ve run many crisis campaigns for clients in the financial, nonprofit and political sector. A political campaign in itself is always in crisis mode as candidates continue to dig up dirt on the competition. Likewise, the crisis campaigns I ran in the nonprofit and financial space were more centered around protecting their well established brands.

The first thing I always tell clients in any crisis situation: Never lie. Don’t lie to reporters. Lying is not a crisis strategy.

I wrote about this in my business book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. The second half of my book is devoted to handling negative news. Chapter 6 provides 10 Defensive Decrees that you can apply to any crisis situation.

Crisis Communications Rules – Don’t Lie, Don’t Lie

Back to Trump and what you can learn from his crisis situation.

The White House administration is facing yet another crisis involving a meeting Don Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort allegedly had with alleged Russian operatives, inside of Trump Tower. This time, the question revolves around who knows what.

Time will reveal what is fact and fiction, but for the sake of this administration, I hope they aren’t lying to prosecutors – or investigative journalists.

Reporters are paid to uncover lies and if you mislead them, they will uncover it. Journalists will especially uncover the lies if you are trying to wing the messaging on the fly.

Create a Crisis Messaging Plan

It’s important to establish a messaging plan as the crisis unfolds. This doesn’t mean you need to create a PowerPoint, or write out several pages in a bind folio. Messaging can be discussed and strategized verbally.

Why is this important? It keeps your messaging as a whole on the same page. With large organizations and campaigns, this is crucial because it allows your crisis messaging to remain intact and on message.

Finance Monthly and ACQ5 5 – an international industry award – named Macias PR the 2017 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year – USA. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.