Business as Usual: Is This an Effective PR Crisis Strategy?

After a spiraling sex-scandal between Governor Bentley and his senior advisor, Rebekah Mason, many have watched and waited to see how the Governor would handle it. After several apologies and invoking the forgiveness of God, he then later moved on to another strategy. He went fishing, and posted pictures on his social media to show the world just how he was getting on while scandal threatened to consume his political career.
This reaction gained him intense criticism from many onlookers, but the professionals say this is all part of his game plan. Many later predicted that he would then start posting about his regular work activities, and sure enough, that soon followed. Just two days later, he shared a post of meeting with a doctor to “tour his rural medical practice Cahaba Medical Care.”

A Natural Response

Business as usual is a natural response to crisis, which many of us have used at some point or other, in our lives. It’s what we do after we quit our job for the first time, or end a long-term relationship. Rather than appear broken by the new state of affairs, we paint a picture to friends and viewers on social media as though our lives are chugging along seamlessly. This shows strength and composure.

But in public relations, it does a great deal more than just that. It also helps to not feed content surrounding a particular issue. For instance, when VW was hit with the emissions scandal last year, it proceeded with the same business as usual approach. VW did not acknowledge the scandal on their platforms; thus eliminating themselves as a further source of information regarding the scandal.

To add to this, virtually all their posts focused on awards they had won, new models coming out, and other achievements they had made. One might have believed they had no knowledge of the scandal looming just overhead.

At first, people criticized this strategy. But as VW had shut up about the issue, little by little, so did everyone else. VW no longer had anything new to add to the conversation, and over time, there just became not much else for anyone else to say regarding it.

Reputation Management: Search Engine Benefits

The business as usual approach also brings other headlines to the news to whitewash negative titles that usually pop up at the head of a search. For instance, if a company makes newsworthy mention of its achievements rather than failures throughout a scandal, criticism may follow first. But little by little, the media becomes less interested in the company.

Positive headlines are not as sensational as negative ones. It doesn’t sell as well, or attract as many readers and viewers. As a result, journalists and broadcasting companies will likely move on to the next big mistake made by some other political figure or company around the world.
To many onlookers, business as usual seems like a ridiculous and even offensive approach to handling scandal. But time and time again, it has proven effective. By staying mum and focusing on the positive, the affected figure eliminates additional content to the media regarding the issue, and pushes more positive headlines in search engine enquiries to boost their image.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of Crisis Management Public Relations company 5W PR.

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