We’ve finally heard the verdict on Jeremy Clarkson, and speculation is already rife as to what will ‘become’ of the BBC presenter.
Will his career hit an unstoppable decline?
Will all hope of future broadcast opportunities disappear in a puff of smoke?
Or will this apparent ‘negative PR’ incident actually be the momentum for a new career era and resurgence in his professional life?
The ultimate answer will only become clear in the coming weeks, but it’s worth looking at just how many brands and individuals have come back stronger and more triumphant after a seemingly disastrous – or even just an imperfect – time in their journey.
Of course, no-one recommends the courting of deliberately negative press attention and dire PR commentary, but there’s certainly something hopeful in that so many businesses who suffer knocks and setbacks subsequently rally and find even more effective momentum and energy on their way to a future success.
Take Toyota. Back in 2010 the company had to recall millions of vehicles because of defects which had ultimately caused deaths to drivers and passengers.
You couldn’t get much worse for a motor company in terms of a potential crisis communications scenario.
Truth be told, the company actually showed pretty appalling crisis management at the time, and its senior team seemed to be running for the hills in the early days while PRs were sent trying to dampen the fire with journalists and convince them not to run too harsh a tale of the brand.
Eventually, Toyota got its act together and realised its approach simply hadn’t been good enough. It rallied and re-emerged in terms of its communication strategy.
This presented itself in the form of marketing and advertising efforts reiterating resiliency, a desire to ‘put things right’, and sincere communication to its customers.
The approach worked. They attracted positive reaction and a return in customer confidence because they’d learned from the failing and determined to up their game.
Likewise, look at individuals who’ve taken a pretty undeniably savage time because of the way they’ve acted out in public and allowed their PR persona to be portrayed.
Chris Evans is one of those. At one point the press were loving slating his wayward acts and apparent ‘fall from grace’. What did Chris do? Did he shy away and disappear to a watering hole somewhere to see out his days as ‘the forgotten broadcast star’?
Of course not. He took a long hard look at how he was being portrayed, used it as ammunition to reposition himself, and today he’s one of the known personalities who’s odds on favourite for the Clarkson job and is pulling in huge ratings figures at Radio 2.
So while not a single PR guru would suggest that a disastrous period in the press is a terrific thing for a brand or individual, it certainly doesn’t mark the end.
As they say, it’s not what happens to you in life – but how you handle it!
In the meantime, here’s a few others who’ve faced some form of rejection, disappointment or disaster, and bounced back to greater success.
Want to know more about crisis communications, handling a PR issue or making the best future communications strategy? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org