Crisis communications: The reasonable majority principle

Somebody once wrote that you can’t keep all the people happy all of the time…and that principle is an important one when dealing with issues that threaten your brand or reputation. 

In advising clients at times of crisis I am very conscious of making it clear that you will never be able to keep every one happy. 

One critical consideration when it comes to issue management and crisis communications is that you are ultimately pitching to the reasonable majority, as opposed to the unreasonable and, perhaps even, irrational minority.

When an incident occurs, a mistake is made or there’s just one big stuff up, the best advice is always to face up to it, admit the fault and do whatever you can to provide reassurance that you will address the issue front and centre. 

Will everyone be happy with your response? I doubt it.  Some people will want you to go even further – and some won’t even know what they want…but they will just be angry and want to hit out and cause you as much pain as they can. 

But here’s where the principle of the “reasonable majority” kicks in.  Because at some point the rational crowd reaches the conclusion that while you got it wrong, you’ve done all that could reasonably be expected of anyone to face up to the issue and make amends. 

The noisy scrub birds will still be shrieking.  But the people who really matter have moved on.  And the shrieks and shouts of the irrational few will be increasingly discounted by the majority.