Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
It’s never a good idea not to respond to a charge, an unfounded criticism or a lie no matter how dumb, outrageous or untrue.
But do it in a measured way so it doesn’t spread any further, which on the Internet today can be challenging, but possible.
Whatever you do, don’t let puny little lies become a giant crisis. Don’t let a spark become a fire. Sooner you put it out, the better.
I’ve helped the biggest companies in America deal with reputational problems. And I’ve learned the sooner you respond, the better, no matter how big or small, inaccurate or fake the allegation.
If not responded to, dirt can spread as fast as truth.
Next question is what kind of response?
If an accusation or charge is all trumped up, inaccurate, unfounded or ridiculous, then that’s your response, but it’s a response.
Saying nothing is a sign you’re guilty as charged. Not good PR.
Forget the thought that something so outrageous is not deserving a response, or you’ll leave the outrageous sitting out there gaining traction.
The presumption that maybe its true starts growing if no one’s denying or challenging it with hard evidence and strong conviction.
Speed in responding is critical. Also who responds is critical.
So have the right person in your organization tell the truth, tell it himself or herself and tell it right away and the lies will die and you can bury them in the Sling Dirt Cemetery.
Respond in a measured way. If it’s a big lie have the CEO do it. If it’s a little one, have someone lower in the executive ranks respond.
But respond! Do it.
About the Author: Thomas Madden is CEO of TransMedia Group, one of the largest independent PR firms in Florida, where it currently operates. The firm’s clients have included AT&T, American Red Cross, City of New York, GL Homes, Jordache Enterprises, McCormick and Schmick’s, Rexall Sundown, Stanley Steemer.