This is not the case for crisis communications, unfortunately.
The very best thing a company or an individual can do is to be responsive should they find themselves abruptly or unwillingly put in a public spotlight.
An example—the biggest scandal of 2009 to 2010 was Tiger Woods and his private affairs becoming overwhelmingly public, vastly diminishing his popularity to the general population, after the car accident at his house on Thanksgiving night in 2009.
Surprisingly, though, Woods was criticized almost equally as much for not speaking publicly about the incident. He did not hold a press conference, or make any kind of public appearance or statement, until February of 2010.
Not to say that him holding a press conference would take everything back to the status quo, but the issue needs to addressed by all involved before misinterpreted conclusions are reached.
One question was posed to The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) recently after a fight broke out at one of their locations and the video was posted with high volumes of views.
They have yet to comment on the issue.
This is the not the first in what has turned out to be a series of fight videos at fast-food restaurants.
In the weeks leading up to the IHOP fight, there was an incident at a McDonald’s in which a transgender woman was attacked and beaten—in what is being described as a hate crime—with an employ standing over the victim taking video with their camera phone.
Unlike the Woods scandal, McDonald’s was quick to respond, saying the attack and employee behavior was “unacceptable, disturbing and troubling.”
Simple as that because all people what is a response—just something that says they acknowledge the incident instead of trying to ignore it.
Now the questions have been raised with IHOP—not what will they say, but why haven’t they said anything?
Crisis communication is a different situation in that there is no way to be proactive and get out in front of an incident due to the suddenness and no lead-time. In that essence, be proactive by letting people hear about it from you instead of the newspapers or other media.
With the alternative (the Woods situation), the best stance is to take a stance. A quick response will (obviously, but with an impact) squash any chance of a group questioning your lack of a response and calling you out.