If the Senate expense and Rob Ford cocaine scandals have done anything, they’ve reinforced that tearing off the band aid in one swipe is preferable to peeling it off slowly and carefully.
I’ve written a number of times about the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) nature of the social web. The premise of my theory is that discussion on the web doesn’t evolve as much as is hastily moves from one pile-on to the next driven by… oh, look… shiny object!
I call this the This Too Shall Pass effect. It’s the not-entirely-jokingly concept of coming clean, surviving three or four cycles of Tylenol, then carrying on with life. The shiny object could be anything including the latest celebrity arrest, a natural disaster, a new incident on a hot-button issue such as bullying, a inspirational campaign such as KONY2012 or a picture or video of a cute pet. They all have their moment in the public conscious before the next shiny object comes along.
Satisfy the public interest and it will move along
Crisis communications 101 has long come with the guidance “mess up, fess up.” That’s good advice. The premise is you reveal everything that happened and all information you have on the issue, you own the problem, you suggest steps to make it right, you answer as many questions as is practical and you follow-up periodically to whoever has maintained an interest in the matter. Being the firehose operator can help you drown out the issue by satiating everyone’s appetite for information. They’ll be satisfied or bored of the issue and carry on.
There are many examples of This Too Shall Pass in action. I’ve highlighted a few on my blog. The Auditor General’s draft report on G8 Summit spending. TellVicEverything. The Amanda House YoPro criticisms of Loblaws. The list grows everyday.
The critical conclusion
Tearing the band aid off slowly means trickling new scandalous details everyday. You’re offering yourself up as your own shiny object. You’re feeding the worst possible parts of the ADD nature of the social web as it applies to you, rather than playing up its benefits. This approach assures you will be the story each day, every day, for a long time.
If that’s you’re preferred approach, you’ll need more Tylenol.