Creating Calm Amid a Storm: Six Outrage Management Tips

Risk communication consultant Peter Sandman’s bread and butter is “outrage management,” or what to do when people are excessively frightened or angry about a small "hazard"—an event or point of communication that may cause outrage—and you want to calm them down. “The strategies that work are counterintuitive for most PR pros,” he says. Here are his six key outrage strategies that you might want to get comfortable with:

1. Stake Out the Middle: Acknowledge your opponents’ best arguments right along with your own best arguments.

2. Acknowledge Prior Misbehavior: And apologize for your errors in judgment.

3. Acknowledge Current Problems: Honesty will get you everywhere.

4. Give Away the Credit: Give the kudos to your critics for improvements they pushed for.

5. Share Control and Be Accountable: Share control with stakeholders, and (when you’re unable or unwilling to share control) set up accountability mechanisms so stakeholders can at least watch and criticize.

6. Get the Underlying Issues Out in the Open: Bring underlying issues and motivations (such as greed and ego) at least “into the room,” if not actually on the table.

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