There have been a lot of stories out “there” recently, you know, in corporate America and beyond, that can be reflected upon by lawyers and legal marketers as to their applicability for our legal marketing, advertising, reputation management and PR efforts.

There’s Apple‘s apparent lack of women (diversity) when naming and rolling out the iPad. They keep thinking it’s going to blow over, but, from the posts I continue to read, I’m not seeing the women out there being too forgiving. There’s the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad and how the opponents to the ad over-reacted, thereby giving Pam Tebow and Focus on the Family the PR “win.” And, while the Toyota brake recall will never find a true comparison in the legal world, there are lessons in crisis management that we can all look at. Caroline McDonald wrote in her article, Toyota, Tylenol Recalls ‘Worlds Apart,’ Crisis Mgt. Expert Says,

[Chris] Gidez [director of risk management and crisis communications at Hill & Knowlton] explained that while there are several phases to this type of crisis—Toyota is currently in the “acute phase,” which will recede as the next sensational story moves in. “The good news for companies is that the amount of time of these stories is compressed,” he said.
After Toyota closes the “acute” chapter, “There will be many, many months or years of the ‘chronic’ phase, where they will deal with the fallout—the litigation, the issues of product repair and the issue of having to invest in winning back consumer confidence.”
He added, “But this is a company that didn’t get to where they are for lack of smarts. They are a smart bunch of people. They’ll pull through, but it will be a new normal.”
What are the lessons for reputation risk managers?
Try to regain control of the agenda as quickly as possible. While this is easier said than done, as long as others are driving the conversation, companies will be in a reactive mode.
Understand the speed at which information now moves and adjust to it. The time allowed to make decisions is now measured in minutes, not hours or days.
Anticipate the course of the situation and plan for it.

Connect with your audience emotionally. Fear and anxiety are far more powerful than reason. You won’t get very far in connecting with people rationally until you can address peoples’ emotions.