Reputation Management: 7 Considerations for Deciding When to “Keep Your Head Down”

Stacy Bettison is a lawyer and PR expert
Stacy Bettison, attorney and PR expert, brings over 15 years experience in crisis communications and media relations.

Clients often ask: Should we keep our head down, or get out in front of the crisis? This question applies to both corporate, organizational and individual clients who are looking down the barrel of a potential reputational crisis.

Whether a crisis is in its beginning, middle or end phases can influence whether to be reactive or proactive. Whatever strategy is adopted, it can greatly impact long-term reputation, both in terms of stopping the bleeding and influencing successful reputation rehabilitation.

Considerations for whether to pursue a head’s down strategy are the following:

  1. Who are we concerned will learn of the crisis — who are the stakeholders we care about?
  2. What will they do/feel when they hear about your issue – will they take adverse employment action, will customers leave, will you be “canceled” (and do you even care?), will there be protests (and do you even care)?
  3. Is your name published on social media or in a media story yet? Will your name inevitably be made public? Might it not?
  4. What’s at stake for you, what potentially will you lose because of the crisis — customers, investors, friends, college admissions, a job? What is there to gain?
  5. What difference will a statement/proactive approach make now – will it show responsibility, ownership of the problem? Or will it draw unnecessary attention to you?
  6. For crises that are covered by the media, if the coverage dies down suddenly (a more important news cycle occurs – e.g., war, virus, riots), will being too proactive unnecessarily encourage more news coverage about the crisis, could it perpetuate another news cycle that was actually going to die a natural death?
  7. What about our pivot strategy – at what point in the media cycle do we change course and get proactive?

At BETTISON, we have represented many clients over the past 13 years in which we undertook a thoughtful, strategic analysis about whether to “keep our heads down.”  This has included criminal and civil litigation, corporate matters, issues impacting non-profits, investor relations, to name just a few examples.

If you are faced with a critical issue or crisis that potentially could impact your long-term reputation, call BETTISON today. We can help you evaluate what strategy is best for you, whether it be a criminal issue, social media crisis, corporate matter or civil litigation.

Contact us today: 952-426-3744 or info[at]