Writing a good corporate statement in a global crisis is like trying to balance a massive pyramid upside down atop a highwire. A company’s entire reputation may rest on a few sentences that get endlessly parsed on Twitter.
I’ve been the PR person in the room with lawyers, company leaders, and board members drafting those statements. All it takes is one lawyer saying “billion dollar lawsuit” and everyone shuts down. I’d push for more declarative language, but I rarely won the day, because “billion dollar lawsuit” trumps everything.
So instead I advocated to make the statements as simple, clear, and jargon-free as possible. And then, with the lawyers’ permission of course, I did background interviews with key reporters to put things in context.
Is that weak? Maybe. Is it necessary? Absolutely. PR people are nothing if not realists.
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