Today, on the Indestructible PR podcast, we respond to a listener question about crisis leadership among incumbents and successors.

A listener wants to know if there are any key distinctions in the guidance for crisis communication by leaders who swept in after an incident (where no individuals associated with the crisis are still involved) versus crisis communication that comes from the leadership responsible at the time of the crisis.

Tuning in, you’ll hear a bit more information about how this question came about, why the specific details of the incident in question are not important, and why it makes for such a challenging situation. To find out what happens when the mess of prior leadership is left to be handled by the successor and how to salvage the trust of key stakeholders, tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The listener email that inspired today’s topic.
  • Research that Molly did into the incident that the listener is referring to.
  • The clear demarcation between leadership in this situation and how this was the mess of prior leadership.
  • Why what you do with a crisis from incumbent leadership essentially doesn’t matter.
  • The importance of leadership showing care in a crisis in order to maintain trust.
  • Why trust is the single biggest predictor of how a crisis will resolve.
  • How you can leverage the new leader for their new ideas.
  • Why you should factor in the reasonable expectations of the stakeholders that matter to you.
  • Our Indestructible PR tip for the day.


“If you do not show care from leadership, you’re going to lose something valuable, something [that is] indispensable in a crisis, and that is trust .” — @MollyMcPherson [0:04:45]

“[Trust] will remain if you meet [the] expectation of your stakeholders, but the trust will plummet if stakeholders feel betrayed, if the press senses that you are shaking in your conviction and shaking in your values.” — @MollyMcPherson [0:04:58]

“When it comes to crisis leadership among incumbents and successors, remember: do not pass the buck. Do not blame the predecessor. Use the change in regime to make changes and leverage those changes to regain the trust of your stakeholders.” — @MollyMcPherson [0:07:57]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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