5 Ways Team Robbins Cooled Crisis Coals

Written by Steve Piacente

June 27, 2016

If you’re famous and ask people to storm across hot coals, odds are you could end up with burnt toes. And some bad publicity. Even a national news story or two.

So it was the other day in Dallas for motivational speaker Tony Robbins, whose “Unleash the Power Within” seminars include the “fire walk,” intended to teach folks how to “turn fear into power.”

For those unfamiliar with Robbins, he is a best-selling self-help author with 2.81 million Twitter followers. More than 17 million have watched his TED talk, “Why We Do What We Do.” So, as with any celebrity, well-known CEO, or government official, when things go awry, TV trucks appear fast as ambulances.

Here’s how the principal and Team Robbins quickly cooled the crisis coals and ensured one hot night in Dallas didn’t turn into a multi-day story.

1 – They responded quickly, and set the record straight with confidence. Robbins’ organization told media outlets like CBS News, “In Dallas tonight, someone not familiar with the fire walk observed the event and called 911, erroneously reporting hundreds of people requiring medical attention for severe burns.”

2 – They doused fiery headlines by citing a single stat that put things in perspective. “Only five of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site.” (CNN, citing a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman, said that of the more than 7,000 participants, at least 30 suffered minor foot burns. Five were hospitalized.)

3 – They stayed on message, citing pleasure at completing “another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests.” The walk has apparently been part of Robbins’ shtick for 35 years.

4 – They were prepared, both at the event, and for any negative PR. That is, trained medical personnel were on hand at the site just in case. And, Robbins spokeswoman Jennifer Connelly was ready afterwards with the company line.

“It is always the goal to have no guests with any discomfort afterwards, but it’s not uncommon to have fewer than 1 percent of participants experience ‘hot spots,’ which is similar to a sunburn that can be treated with aloe,” Connelly told CNN.

5 – Robbins leveraged third party allies on social media, at one point retweeting a column on Inc. that called the incident a “false alarm.”

Without getting into the wisdom of walking on hot coals – or its symbolic value – Robbins’ response demonstrated for anyone in the public eye the importance of being prepared, getting in front of a crisis, and delivering key messages with precision and clarity. Nothing turns a fire into ashes faster.

Any other thoughts on the Robbins rapid response team?