The most useful and most ignored advice in crisis management is this: say it early, say it all, and say it yourself.
But when media personality Ann Coulter lambasted Delta on Twitter for making her change seat, Delta’s PR department did not say it all or early. It reacted as emotionally as the rant to which it responded, calling it “unacceptable” among other things. That may be true, but it does not help. We still do not know if Coulter was indeed ordered to move, why, or any of the circumstances at play. This is bad for Delta because the all the brouhaha is still in the news.
Lanny Davis, the man who coined the say-it-all method, was interviewed about that. He blamed the lawyers (indirectly). He guessed that companies like Delta are reluctant to state facts lest they be cross-examined about them at deposition.
This is silly. You cannot blame the lawyers here. Depositions are wide ranging. People are often shocked by the breadth of questions they are asked, with seemingly no way to stop them. (Objections are preserved for future ruling if needed, but objected-to questions must still be answered.) A factual statement early on will not change anything.
Davis is right. Say it early, say it all and say it yourself. Litigation may ensue, but that alone is no reason to say nothing substantive. In a crisis, don’t blame the lawyers… consult with one instead.