Crisis Management in the age of #MeToo

The Guardian has an interesting article on those on the #MeToo hit list who are trying to employ crisis management firms to clean up their image. The article is worth reading on many levels, and it is a rare glimpse at the dark practice of image manipulation.

However, this gambit is nothing new. My graduate thesis in j-school was all about the techniques and methods of these kinds of firms.

Usually, that information was kept quiet, and in many scandals, it still is, but because #MeToo hit the arts and communications industries the hardest -- these are people who know to bring up those tricks because image maintenance is a normal part of daily business. Exposing this ruse ensures those tangled into that web can't weasel out so easily as those scandalized before them had done.

It is not the first time the press has leaked a scandalized person or company's attempt to fix their image with trained professionals, but there are plenty of others who got away with it because that crucial information was left out of news stories.

But there are many tells that reveal it, and my first book Don't Believe It! gives many of those tells away. It is all by-the-numbers and predictable. For example, you may have someone of prominence speak out to defend the person -- they are a proxy. It wasn't their idea to stand up for the person -- but the firm who recruits untainted associates to speak on their client's behalf.

It is not common or standard practice for journalists to reveal which firms and consultants have been recruited to shape the newsmaker's narrative, and that in itself is instructive about the situation, and how serious a battle it has become...