When found in the center of controversial claims, sometimes, beating your accusers to the punch can mitigate the consequences. Known as the “stealing thunder” technique, this crisis communication strategy involves revealing the negative facts/information about yourself or a situation before it is mentioned by the opponent or other individuals.
According to Science Direct, “Stealing thunder in a crisis situation, as opposed to allowing the information to be first disclosed by another party, was found to result in higher credibility ratings.”
Rap phenom Eminem “stole the thunder” successfully in the hit movie “8 Mile” as “Rabbit”, calling out his own negative truths before his opponent could in a rap battle, leading to his win. In embracing his own past by proclaiming his less than lavish dwellings and personal misfortunes, Rabbit took the power back, and spun it on his opponent, poking holes in the competitor’s street credibility. This strategy also ties into the “Reducing Offensiveness” tactic of Image Restoration theory by William Benoit, in which attacking the accuser minimizes their credibility.
While the heat of a rap battle isn’t exactly the same as maneuvering a school crisis, the same strategy Eminem used to overcome his battle can apply in the midst of your own. When the facts surrounding a situation aren’t so pleasant, addressing them directly is proactive rather than reactive, resulting in a stronger likelihood of transcending controversy.
Sometimes, stealing the thunder by stating the truth and proposing solutions for your district can result in success, minimizing the consequences.
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