Witness the ubiquitous FAQ. Every organization does them, usually ahead of a media interview or important stakeholder meeting. I’ve drafted my share of them over the years, and it amuses me how often a lawyer would review it and scratch off a question or two. “We don’t want to get into that” was the usual response when I pushed back.
Somehow they failed to understand that deleting the question in an FAQ didn’t mean the question wouldn’t be asked. Out of loyalty to my client, whom I wouldn’t leave hanging when the question arose, I often ignored the lawyer’s advice.
Here’s a (sadly) more common example of the Wishful Thinking Strategy: disregarding news on social media. I suspect this is a leftover from the days when social media was mostly limited to favorite songs and the latest crush ruminations on MySpace.
Social media is far more sophisticated today. Whole businesses have been destroyed by it. Yet in recent weeks I’ve seen an organization pilloried online and decline to engage the conversation.
Not every question or issue needs the all-hands-on-deck response—ask me about the “trapped deer on the six o’clock news” story sometime—and trolling is usually best handled at arm’s length. But hoping a serious issue will simply go away isn’t effective PR.
When an issue arises and you choose not to speak for yourself, someone else will speak for you. And you’ll likely wish they hadn’t.