Silence in response to crisis is like letting a baby cry

“Tell the truth faster.”

It’s our motto when it comes to crisis communications. For us it means helping a client assess a situation and respond to it in a timely matter – even if that entails producing a holding statement while we help the client develop a plan. This is particularly important at a time when digital technology is king, everyone has an opinion, and there are thousands of platforms to express one’s views. So, while this approach may not completely avert a reputation crisis, it often helps mitigate negative backlash.

I was recently thinking of our motto when news broke that ABC and the Academy Awards rejected a Frida Mom ad depicting the struggles of women postpartum. Both ABC and the Academy remained silent amid increasing public outcry, and fueling the fire were the alleged guidelines for rejecting ads that contain “political candidates/positions, religious or faith-based messages/positions, guns, gun shows, ammunition, feminine hygiene products, adult diapers, condoms, or hemorrhoid remedies.”

It happened again when the Houston Astros waited over a month to apologize for their cheating scandal during the World Series – only issuing multiple and largely mocked apologies during the press conference for the opening of Spring Training season. Not. Good. Timing.

A quick Google search reveals countless stories of these mishaps, while Twitter buzzes with posts and retweets alongside messages like “the Academy always gets it wrong” or “this is BS” and my favorite “let’s normalize women’s bodies.” At same time, the hashtag #HoustonAstros is flooded with mocking comments about the too-little-too-late apology.

Advising silence during a communications crisis is like advising parents to let their babies cry all night. It rarely works, and sometimes escalates! Which is why we always advise to tell the truth faster.