Silence, though not often celebrated, can be a very powerful public relations tool. Silence might be “the best answer for a fool,” but it could also be a great response in some public relations situations.
There are several ways silence can be used as an effective public relations strategy. Here are 10 of them:
Silence cools the fire
Dignified silence is a tried and tested format. Responding immediately to criticism in a public relations crisis just fuels the narrative and creates more headlines. This usually works more in the favor of the accuser.
The dignified silence of the British royal family after the explosive Spare memoir of the “spoilt” Prince Harry has so far proved to be a sound public relations strategy. The royals have long been famed for their “never complain, never explain motto,” and as public reaction to this book begins to filter out it seems that this public relations strategy is working for them once again
Allows time for reflection
Sometimes, it’s best to step back and assess the situation before responding. Silence can give you time to gather information, consider your options, and develop a thoughtful response.
Diffuses tension and negative emotions
When emotions run high, silence can help to diffuse the situation. By not responding, you’re indicating that you’re not going to engage in a heated exchange.
Responding to negative comments or criticism can sometimes make the situation worse. By not responding, you’re preserving your reputation and avoiding the risk of making the situation worse.
Not responding to negative comments or criticism can show maturity and professionalism. It demonstrates that you’re above the fray and not going to be drawn into a fight.
Silence can create mystery and intrigue, which can be a powerful tool in public relations. By not responding, you’re leaving people to wonder what you’re thinking, which can be a great way to generate interest and buzz.
Allows the story to die a natural death
Sometimes, the best response is no response at all. By not responding, you’re allowing the story to die and avoiding giving it more attention.
Silence also keeps you in control of the narrative.
By not responding to negative comments or criticism, you’re showing that you’re trustworthy and reliable. People will begin to trust you more when they see that you’re not going to engage in negative or harmful behavior.
Sends a message of confidence
Silence can also send a message, especially when others are being vocal. It can show that you are not affected by the situation and are confident in your position.
Allows room for discussion and compromise
By not responding, you may be able to create an opening for compromise. This can be especially effective when the other party is looking for a face saving way out and your silence will give them that opportunity.
Is silence = to guilt?
However, it’s important to note that silence is not always the best option and should be used selectively in specific situations.
It’s also important to recognize that silence could sometimes be viewed as an admission of guilt. Silence is most powerful as a public relations strategy when you take corrective action instead. Talk is always cheaper than action, both public relations and life.