It doesn’t matter if you take part in a pickup match, are a member of an amateur sports team or even made it to the big league—the rules of a game remain essentially the same, even as we revel in all the world-class competitors at the recently completed Olympic Games in Beijing.
However, there are a few things that do change:
Public relations isn’t necessarily a sport, but the integral foundation, or rules of the craft, don’t change much. Even when it comes to the most daunting of assignments—like crisis communications—best practices and ethics are consistently maintained to determine the winner and loser of a begrudging battle. Like the Olympics, there are a few caveats: intensity and pace during a crisis can kick things into high gear.
The routine of everyday public relations assignments are entrenched in a predictable push-pull. Crisis communications efforts must consider the acceleration of demands, media scrutiny and higher stakes that determine the anticipated rise…or fall of an organization. These stakes determine an aftermath that can either bring a prosperous future or initiate a disastrous collapse.
Memorable Olympians are commemorated at dazzling medal ceremonies. We will always remember champions like Michael Phelps, Shaun White, Chloe Kim, and Gabby Douglas, but what about the others who went home with nothing? This is also the reality of crisis communications: a make-it or break-it endeavor.
Victory is sweet when well-earned—this maxim applies to organizations who emerge triumphant as well as the agencies who work them out of these messes. Public relations management can feel like the greatest game when the right players are involved. It takes discipline, practice, and the mastering of basics to confront a defining moment.
Crisis communication situations are for all the marbles. And in any game, these words will continue to ring true, when it comes time: don’t hate the player, hate the game.
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