Crisis Communications: The Day That Sean Spicer Got It Right


Reaction is often as impactful as a triggering incident. And in crisis, the reaction can frame the issue.

Sean Spicer got it right, and he showed more communications know-how than his boss. When SNL’s hilarious skit with Melissa McCarthy as him generated headlines and laughs – he got his reply right. Rather than rant about the show being not funny or having failing ratings… Spicer called the skit “funny” and “cute.” And he added that McCarthy “needs to slow down on the gum chewing, way too many pieces in there.”

He shrugged it off. Point is, if you swing at every low and inside pitch - that is all you will see. Our president cannot lay off a low inside pitch – and his consistent pushback has made SNL’s parodies a big deal. According to Variety, since the November 8th election SNL’s ratings have exploded 19% in the key demographic of adults 18 to 49 and 22% overall to 10.6 million – that is the biggest audience the show has seen since 1995.

Reaction is often as impactful as a triggering incident. And in crisis, the reaction can frame the issue. By validating bad information or behavior – we magnify it and make it worse. Any response should be measured, and in line with the accusation. By amplifying a gadfly or critic we give them power – and the excuse to ask another question. That encourages the media to pay attention, too. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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