Breaking Bad: The Art of Selling Your Own Scandal

Scandal sells news; but how do you navigate out of a public relations crisis when the press are camped on your front lawn?

Fear is a very motivating emotion.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being in control of a situation. Fear of your secrets being found out.

As a Crisis Communicator – I see fear on the faces of my clients regularly. I also see guilt, shame and sometimes even relief. I’m not in the business of judging situations – I’m in the business of fixing them.

By the time I’m called in: the proverbial has hit the fan, reputations are at risk and tempers are fraying. The news media are asking questions (they already know the answers to) and the social media apocalypse has begun.

But instead of running a spin campaign and making nonsensical bureaucratic statements; more often than not, breaking bad news yourself – selling your own scandal – is the best course of action.

Selling your own scandal is about controlling your own narrative. Being on the front foot gives you the opportunity to shape and define your story authentically and truthfully without appearing adversarial or reactive.

Controlling your own narrative puts you in the drivers seat of your media interactions – you choose who to speak to, when to speak to them and how to publish. It gives you time to prepare and the opportunity to ensure your workforce, your shareholders, your board members and your family ‘hear it from you first.’

Why?

Because ‘No Comment’ isn’t a policy.

It’s a shutdown. It leads people to suspect that there is more to your story.

Because one scandal is never enough for the media.

They will rummage through your closet, hoping more skeletons fall out. If they can’t find any, they will use creative license on your legacy.

And because authentic honesty gives your brand, your reputation – the best chance of surviving your crisis.

As Henry Kissinger , American diplomat and political scientist, famously said: “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately” — and on your terms.