Always be ready to take a hit.
A lot of people who don’t work in politics ask me if I have ever been around any scandals or big, negative, national news stories. The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is “you wouldn’t believe half of them if I told you.”
But here’s what I’ve learned from being around when something hits the fan in politics. And businesses need to learn this also:
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. So plan on being punched in the face.
Learning to manage a crisis, is something I learned early in my campaign life. See, in politics, candidates don’t live in a vacuum – they’re compared and contrasted to other candidates in the race. This inevitably leads to negative campaigning and constantly being a target. Political opponents will turn ANYTHING into a negative story about you. The old joke is if you walked on water, the opposition would say you don’t know how to swim.
On the campaign trail… you’re gonna get hit and you’ll have to respond quickly. Companies could learn a thing or two on this front. Your competition. The public. News. You can’t be sure when, or from which direction, but you can be sure it’s coming.
Your business could be sued, could be offered enticements to relocate, could get a “big” government contract, have layoffs, have a workplace accident—see where I’m going? Someone has a problem with it and then it’s news and then—guess what? Yep. You just got punched in the face.
Step one. Get all the facts. In politics, we keep research books on every candidate in the race for just an occasion. (Even research on yourself). Knowing all the angles will help you respond and make sure you have the best plan when a crisis happens.
Step two. Have a plan in place before a crisis happens. Wargame a step by step plan for managing the crisis. Know what your “generalized” response and tone will be. Know who will respond on behalf of your company. Know what steps you’ll take to correct the issue.
When you get hit, it’s best to be ready and have a plan to stop the bleeding.