Tell the truth and tell it quickly.

It seems simple. But every day we pick up a newspaper or go to a web site and see that once again, someone has violated the two most important core principles of crisis communications – of all communications for that matter – tell the truth and tell it quickly. It was Herman Cain. Then it was Penn State officials. Rest assurred another will surface shortly.

Why is simple honesty so hard for people at times? Agreed, stress can do funny things to your judgement. But in today’s society there are no shortcuts and there certainly are no secrets, so not only is honesty the best policy it really is the only policy. Unless you are an extreme gambler that is.

Presidential candidate Gary Hart once dared the media to follow him, to expose his secrets. They did. A decade later Bill Clinton saw the truth about Monica Lewinsky come out in pieces. Painfully. Slowly. Until he too was facing the hard truths.

Gatherers of todays news don’t need to be challenged. They do it every day. TMZ. The Drudge Report. They make yesterday’s Star tabloid look pretty tame.

So do yourself a favor. If a crisis hits be prepared to reveal the details. And depending on the nature of the crisis, call in a media counselor. And perhaps a lawyer. People and companies can recover from a crisis. It makes the healing more difficult when you start off on the wrong foot.

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