Coloring Our World: Lessons in Reputation Management From a Community’s Mass Shooting

July 22, 2016

[courtesy of the kalamazoo mayor's office]
[courtesy of the kalamazoo mayor's office]

The Rev. Paul Fazio stood before his congregation in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Feb. 21, and studied the emotions brimming in expectant eyes: shock, sadness, anger, fear. The previous night, a lone gunman cruised the city and randomly shot eight people, killing six. The congregants — indeed, the whole community — were stunned, desperate for a comforting word.

As he spoke, Fazio noted the winter sun shining through the stained-glass windows, setting the sanctuary ablaze in brilliant blues, reds and yellows. It inspired him. He lamented the loss of life and prayed for the survivors. Then he challenged Kalamazoo to rise above a tragedy that threatened to drown its identity in darkness.

“What are we doing,” Fazio asked, “to color our world?”

That question and Kalamazoo’s response hold valuable lessons for every business, organization and community that cares about its reputation, and those lessons apply long before a crisis occurs and continue long after.

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