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How it was handled: The Secret Service’s Initial Crisis Communications

Secret ServiceWhen scandalous breaking news happens, I always find myself focused on how individuals at the center of the controversy are communicating their sides of the story. Are they following traditional crisis communications procedure? Are they going renegade on what they say and do? Or, have they gone silent?

I can see right away when a company has good planning in place, often times with the help of a high-quality PR firm.

The recent Secret Service scandal is a great case study in crisis communications related to scandalous breaking news. John Trader, a PR pro and blogger on, recently analyzed several aspects of how the Secret Service handled the unfortunate situation it faced:

I like his step-by-step overview, looking at many of the integral parts of crisis communications, no matter the news. He gave the Secret Service an overall grade of B+, which I agree with completely.

One item John’s discussion doesn’t talk about is just how supportive high-ranking former Secret Service members were in talking about the culture of the organization. As CNN and other news agencies tried to push former agents to talk about a “party” culture in the Secret Service, nobody current or former associated with the organization bent. It was clear that the crisis communications procedures of the Secret Service included keeping former agents in its plan seemingly encouraging the press to interview former agents. They communicated in interviews that the agents participating in the Colombian “party scene” were simply bad seeds, and not a reflection of the agency as a whole. From most accounts, Americans and the world have bought it.

True or not about the culture of the Secret Service, the agency was swift in responding, acknowledged wrongdoing, showed empathy for the concerned, took responsibility and took action to fix the problem.

Is your company prepared to do the same? All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based PR firm focusing primarily on working with franchise companies, is experienced in preparing and acting when unexpected or unfortunate occurrences happen within your organization.

Give us a buzz and we can talk about designing a public relations strategy that preempts a major problem, and keeps your business in good standing with your current and future customers.


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