Sometimes companies desire the media spotlight, other times they don’t. Regardless, when the spotlight is on, there is an opportunity to be leveraged.
However, the purpose of this post isn’t to talk about proactive communications strategies designed to seek a spotlight for effective messages. That’s a discussion for another time. Today we’re discussing negative circumstances that bring the spotlight of news media attention and scrutiny to an organization. Too often organizations in crisis expend a great deal of intellectual capital, not to mention valuable time, trying to come up with strategies to dodge the spotlight. The problem is that in most instances the circumstances that have focused the spotlight on a company are outside of management’s control, rendering any efforts to avoid the attention fruitless.
This brings us back to the opportunity the spotlight provides. Rarely, if ever, does an organization have the media’s attention to the degree that it does during a crisis. It provides an often unparalleled opportunity to reinvent a company’s personality, develop new corporate reputation management strategies, or simply deliver a critical message that will help position an organization for growth and recovery.
Even BP, the father of all “evil” corporations that endured the mother of all crises during the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010, was faced with an opportunity for “renewal and redemption,” according to a story in the August 2010 issue of the National Communications Association’s Communication Currents.
The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill is a crisis of the most extreme nature and it will take quite a while to evaluate the final results of the company’s behavior in the spotlight, behavior that certainly was not without its missteps. However, there is no denying that in the days and weeks that followed the disaster, everyone was watching and listening.
While the chances that any of us will experience a crisis of the magnitude of BP’s is, thankfully, quite remote, the fundamental message remains the same: When the spotlight is on, use the opportunity.