Anybody who knows anything about framing social and political issues knows the name George Lakoff. I first encountered the esteemed linguistics professor by way of his seminal book on framing Don’t Think of an Elephant! when I was involved in politics.
It’s described as “the definitive handbook for understanding what happened in the 2004 election and communicating effectively about key issues facing America today…Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate. Lakoff also breaks down the ways in which conservatives have framed the issues, and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate.”
Lakoff’s framing philosophy is right on so many levels, though it’s apparent the Democrats don’t do a lot of listening to him these days. For example, their abysmal framing of the tax issue:
Let’s start with an example, the slogan “No tax cuts for millionaires.” First, “no.” As I have repeatedly pointed out, negating a frame activates the frame in the brains of listeners, as when Christine O’Donnell said “I am not a witch” or Nixon said “I am not a crook.” Putting “no” first activates the idea “Tax cuts for millionaires.”
Next, “millionaires.” Think of the tv show, “So you want to be a millionaire” or the movies “Slumdog Millionaire” and “How to Marry a Millionaire.” To most Americans, being a millionaire is a good thing to aspire to.
Then, there is “tax.” To progressives, taxes are forms of revenue allowing the government to do what is necessary for Americans as a whole — unemployment insurance, social security, health care, education, food safety, environmental improvements, infrastructure building and maintenance, and so on.
But the conservative message machine, over the past 30 years, has come to own the word “tax.” They have changed its meaning to most Americans. They have been able to make “tax” mean “money the government takes out of the pockets of people who have earned it in order to give it to people who haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it.” Thus, “tax relief” assumes that taxation is an affliction to be cured, and a “tax cut” is a good thing in general. Hence, conservatives make the argument, “No one should have their taxes raised.”
The conservative slogan activates the conservative view of taxes. But the progressive slogan “No tax cuts for millionaires” also activates the conservative view of taxes! The progressives are helping the conservatives.
Right or wrong, the conservatives have done a masterful job of framing this issue (and many others). And here’s the kicker, donkeys: Lakoff doesn’t think Dems are wired to change this.
The conservatives have a superior message machine: Dozens of think tanks with communications facilities, framing experts, training institutes, a national roster of speakers, booking agents to books their speakers in the media and civic groups, and owned medias like Fox News and a great deal of talk radio. Their audience will hear, over and over, “No one should have their taxes raised.”
There is no comparable progressive message machine. But even if one were to be built, the Democrats might still be using messages that are either ineffective or that help the conservatives.
Lakoff further explains that everything from education to moral beliefs are to blame for the superiority of the conservative message machine. (Read the article here for his compelling thoughts on the subject.) The takeaway is that your messaging has to be well-considered, logical and created with the conventional wisdom and thinking of your audience at the forefront.
I once worked in public television. As you probably know, public TV is in a perpetual state of war with those who want it to go away. The issue has been framed by opponents that public television is no longer necessary because of the range of educational programming on cable channels. Another argument is that it should get by without government assistance and let the invisible hand of the market determine its rise or fall. I’ll overlook political motivations that are also behind some of this and take these arguments at face value.
My frame of the issue is that cable television (unlike public TV) is advertiser-driven and the educational value of the programming isn’t the top priority (besides the fact that not everyone can or wants to pay for cable). Also, in many markets, the public TV station is the only one that’s effectively responsive to the needs and issues of citizens–it’s the only “locally owned” station in town. This establishes two value propositions for public television that I think are strong rebuttals to the opponents’ frame. These reasons–among others–make public television necessary and worthy of taxpayer support.
Note I didn’t say that opponents of public TV wanted to “kill Big Bird;” that kind of cheap shot doesn’t advance your argument. Whatever your beliefs about public TV, there’s a big difference in how the issue is framed by supporters and opponents. I think my framing was successful on some levels, though obviously the “war” continues.
A warning: framing an issue isn’t the same as spin:
Learn the difference between framing and spin/propaganda. Framing is normal; we think in frames. If you want to formulate a policy that is understandable, the policy must be framed so it came be readily communicated. Framing precedes effective policy. When you use framing to express what you really believe and what the truth is, you are just being an effective communicator. Framing can also be misused for the sake of propaganda. I strongly recommend against it.
As do I.
Filed under G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Big Bird, blogging, Brand identity, conservative, democrat, democrat framing, framing, George Lakoff, issues, Kansas City Public Relations, Kansas City Small Business, kill big bird, liberal, marketing tips, media training, messaging, millionaires, policies, PR, PR tips, progressive, Public TV, tax issue framing, tax millionaires, trust agents
Most PR folks know the syndrome: we’re great at promoting and telling the story of our clients, but not so great at doing the same for ourselves. That’s why it’s important to have someone in your corner who’s a pal–and by pal I mean someone who will tell you the truth when you need to hear it.
A good pal will tell you when your breath isn’t so fresh or you have a stain on your tie. (A pal will tell you when you’re full of it, too–but that’s a different post.)
Professionally, a pal will also tell you that your website needs work or to get your butt in gear and start blogging (in my case, that honor goes to Ms. Shelly Kramer at V3 Integrated Marketing). In that vein, I created a Keynote slide deck for my media training seminar and found it was okay, but more often than not it impeded the flow of my presentation. I showed it to Shelly–and she gently (!) told me that my media training slide presentation needed some…er…okay…a lot of polish.
Shelly recommended I show it to Al.
Al Bonner of Presentation Transformations evaluated my lackluster presentation and told me a number of ways to make it more effective. He zeroed in on the elements that were holding back my presentation (and yes, I am using bullet points–it’s a hard habit to break, Al):
- Too many bullet points. Heck, I had bullet points with bullet points under them.
- Images that were hackneyed and tired.
- Colors and fonts were inconsistent.
- Audio and video slides were clunky.
- I also went a little crazy with the animated transitions–a lot of fancy flights and typewriter effects. I needed to go to Animation Abusers Anonymous.
All of these issues conspired to distract from my message rather than enhancing it.
When Al kindly showed me how distracting those elements are, I blushed a little. I’m a professional communicator for Pete’s sake! (Though he did say he had seen worse.) But Al was right. He was that pal who tells you when you’re wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe.
So, Al took my clunky Keynote presentation (he can do PowerPoint, too) and smoothed out the rough spots, cleaned up the transitions, fonts and multimedia elements. What he gave me was a consistent, creative presentation that enhanced my message and will help me focus on sharing information rather than fooling with a gimmicky, clunky slide show.
I’ve posted a truncated version on Slideshare (see below). The limitations of Slideshare prevent you from seeing the video, hearing the audio or experiencing the transitions; but what you do see is a clean, easy to follow slide presentation. Have a look, and if you want to see what Al can do for you, email him.
If you’d like to see the entire transformed presentation live with the video, audio and wisecracking PR dude, contact me and we’ll schedule your very own media training seminar.
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with Al Bonner, Alex Greenwood PR, AlexanderG Public Relations, Apple, Keynote, Keynote presentation, KS, lawrence, marketing, media training, opportunity knocks, power point, powerpoint, presentation tips, Presentation Transformations. Al Bonner Presentation Transformations, public relations kansas city, Shelly Kramer, Shelly Kramer V3, slides, slideshare, V3
Today we have a guest post by the inimitable Robb Yagmin of PSPR, the firm he runs with PR legend Pete Swickles. Robb is an ex-TVer whose first career was telling stories. He’s interviewed two presidents, many do-gooders and a million criminals. One of the best media trainers in the business, Robb offers up some great tips on acing your TV interview:
So according to FishbowlDC … MSNBC’s Chris Matthews could have restless leg syndrome. He recently was caught bouncing his leg up and down and up and down and up and down while talking about an Obama speech. I’m not going to say if he was happy or mad about the president’s speech, but if you are familiar with the journalist, THAT is not a secret. First, a professional shouldn’t tip his hat one way or another about their political leanings. We all learned objectivity in Journalism 101. But I digress.
Matthews was shaking his leg SO much that a guest laughed at him and they spent time talking about THAT instead of what he wanted his message to be. During my media training seminars, this is one of the main things I try to teach nervous folks about television. When you score a TV interview, whether you are nervous or not, sit in a chair that doesn’t have wheels OR a swivel seat OR a reclining back. Keep both feet flat on the ground. Sit up. Period. I was on TV for 15 years and cameras don’t worry me, but I still would be tempted to sway, move around and generally just fidget. If an interviewee does any of these things, it takes away from the message they are trying to convey.
If you are nervous, here are a couple other on-camera tips:
- Take a quick swallow of water before an interview starts. If nothing else, it lubes the pipes and limits the ‘clicking’ sound when your spit is too thick in your mouth. That sound is annoying.
- Only answer the question you are asked. You are a professional. If you don’t know the answer, say so and offer to call with the information ASAP or get someone else to help out.
- No gum. (Do you really need to tell me this? You’d be surprised). The viewer will notice this distraction and it reduces the effectiveness of your message…have I mentioned this before?
- If the photojournalist is asking the questions and he remains behind the camera (no reporter present) DON’T look into the lens…answer the question by looking at his ear. Exception: a live or satellite shot and you are hooked up with an IFB.
- Nerves are normal. If your interview is taped, do not feel bad if you need to just stop and say, “I’d like to start over.” Unless you are being bird-dogged by a reporter for embezzling money, editors aren’t going to put you on TV stumbling all over yourself. If the interview is live in studio and you draw a blank, just stop talking. The anchor is skilled in filling the gap. Believe me; the more they can hear themselves talk, the better they feel anyway.
Remember, if you are lucky, you may only get 20 seconds on TV. You want the viewers to listen and remember your message…not anything else.
Want more TV tips, tricks and strategies? Goto Pspublicrelations.com, where this piece is cross-posted.
Filed under Public Relations · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Chris Mathews, FishbowlDC, Hardball, hiring a pr consultant, Kansas City Public Relations, media training, messaging, MSNBC, Obama, Pete Swickles, PR, PR tips, PSPR, restless leg, Robb Yagmin, small business, strategic public relations, Yagmin
You can learn valuable lessons on ways to implement your own communications strategies by observing current events. A perfect example of poor messaging strategy is playing out right now in New York City and the White House.
There’s a political firestorm over the proposed Islamic community center near “Ground Zero” in New York City. One side believes the community center is an affront to the people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks; another side believes it is within the rights of American citizens of all faiths to build a place of worship and community on private property.
President Obama has taken the latter position on this issue, but he’s having some serious trouble with his messaging:
President Obama’s comments on a plan to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero are not only giving opponents an opportunity to attack him but also reveal a messaging problem from the White House, a communications expert said.
“The danger here is an incoherent presidency,” said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama’s 2008 campaign. “Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that’s the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign].”
Obama has faced a torrent of criticism for what was called mixed messages on the controversial plan. On Friday, Obama said Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country … That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
The following day, Obama told Ed Henry, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, that he was “not commenting on the wisdom” of the project, just the broader principle that the government should treat “everyone equal, regardless” of religion. Then a White House spokesman clarified those comments.
“Communicating as a law professor does not work as president. It’s not worked,” he said. “You’re drawing fine distinctions and speaking in long enough paragraphs that they can be misconstrued and taken out of context and frankly, handed to your opposition to exploit. And that’s clearly what’s going on here [with the Islamic center/mosque comments].”
While many poked fun at former President George W. Bush for mispronouncing words and stumbling through sentences, observers note that he rarely had to backtrack on his answers because he employed a simple and direct messaging approach.
Like Morey, we believe you can be too smart for your own good. The president is indeed an intelligent man who appears to be struggling with having to pare his policies, opinions and arguments down to a simplistic statement.
We don’t see the president as cynically trying to have it both ways; we see him struggling with his professorial need to be intellectually evenhanded. That doesn’t work in a sound bite media culture. Of course, it also leaves you vulnerable in a “gotcha” political climate.
We’ve said it before; keep it short and pithy. The news media–whether it’s TV, print or online–prefer brevity. They love the sound bite. If you’ve prepared a few good, juicy sound bites you will likely have a positive effect on the story.
KISS, or “Keep It Simple Stupid” is an apt strategy. The same can be said for your communications: whether it be internally to employees or externally to the news media, simplicity is rarely misconstrued. Nuance and shading–even in the interests of being intellectually honest and evenhanded–leaves too much room for misinterpretation and damage to your brand.
President Obama may be getting this message now, if he doesn’t overthink it. Respectfully, Mr. President, you need to Keep It Simple, Stupid.
As a service to our readers, we discuss topical issues in a way that we hope will instruct their own communications strategies. In that vein, we welcome your comments about the communications aspect of this subject, but will not post comments about the controversy itself or the president’s politics.
Filed under Public Relations · Tagged with AlexanderG Public Relations, Bad pr, Brand identity, Crisis Communication Strategy, Ground Zero Mosque, Islamic Center New York, Kansas City, Kansas City Public Relations, Keep It Simple, KISS, media training, messaging, Mosque, Obama, Obama communicator, Park 51, PR, PR process, public relations blog, Robert Gibbs, sharpen message skills, sound bite, Stupid, trust agents, White House messaging
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, Kansas City, Kansas City Small Business, media training, messaging, PR, PR strategery, PR tips, public relations blog, public relations in a recession, small business, strategic public relations
In light of our recent analysis of Apple’s PR problems, we thought this post from The Observer might be of interest:
The event was an instructive shambles. In summary, the message was: Apple is good and makes great products; all smartphones have reception problems; Apple loves its customers, which is why it built all those cool retail stores for them; the iPhone problem can be fixed by fitting a rubberised “bumper” over the bezel; and Apple will give everyone a free bumper, so what’s the problem?
The press conference was instructive because it provided such a vivid demonstration of how inexperienced Apple is in its new role as just another company – and how inept Jobs is when faced with the hostile skepticism that is the routine experience of other CEOs.
“When it comes to responding to hostile or sceptical media coverage,” wrote one experienced commentator, “Jobs & co seem to be like a presidential contender who’s been able to skip the primaries and go straight to the general election – missing all the vetting and the hundreds of debates that help to surface any weakness or issues of concern, providing time to develop the skills necessary to respond to any situation. Jobs demonstrated what I've never seen him do in front of an audience: he not only lost his cool, he lost his charm. He was a like an arena rock star who can’t perform acoustic.”
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, Public Relations · Tagged with AlexanderG Public Relations, Apple, Apple PR, Bad pr, Brand identity, Branding, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, iPhone 4, iPhone 4 PR crisis, Kansas City, lex Greenwood, media training, PR, PR strategery, PR tips, public relations blog, Steve Jobs, strategic public relations, Tony Hayward, trust agents
It’s painful to watch. As a devotee of many of Apple’s products–I’m writing this on a MacBook, various iterations of the iPod have been my constant companion for years–it’s just painful.
Beyond being excellent tools, these Apple products are a statement that I value style and substance, simplicity and elegance, reliability and value. Heck, I’ve crowed from this very blog about the excellent customer service in the Apple store.
That’s why it’s painful to watch the iPhone 4 debacle unfold. Apple, the standard bearer for the best in product development and marketing, has apparently plugged their “PR ears.”
Apple–can you hear the phone ringing?
Let’s review (from the New York Times):
The iPhone 4 has been Apple’s most successful product introduction to date. Yet problems with the antenna surfaced after the phone went on sale and have plagued Apple for weeks.
Apple sought to address those concerns nearly two weeks ago, saying that a software bug caused the iPhone 4 and its predecessors to display signal strength incorrectly.
But Consumer Reports on Monday called into question Apple’s explanation. The magazine said that it had tested the iPhone 4 along with other devices in a lab and determined that the iPhone 4 had a hardware design flaw. It said that it could not recommend the device to its readers until Apple fixed the problem.
Overall Verdict: Tone Deaf PR. (Or is that Dial Tone Deaf PR? Or just iTone Deaf? Punsters, you choose.)
- They may have known about the problem before the launch–devastating in itself if true–it will rip the band-aid right off any efforts to stanch the bleeding to date.
- They have reacted to this situation almost as poorly as BP (though not on the same scale of disaster, it’s a relatively similar PR crisis for the company in terms of credibility).
- CEO Steve Jobs, known for his mercurial temperament and occasional forays into direct “customer service,” has not made the situation any better–in fact, he’s making Apple seem arrogant, petulant and blithe about the entire matter.
- Customer confidence in Apple is shaken–many are already concerned about Apple’s deal with shaky network purveyor AT&T (full disclosure: I have a family member who works for Sprint and I like their service)–and this makes it worse.
- Apple, so used to great press for many years, may simply be unprepared and ill-equipped to handle a crisis such as this (also demonstrated by the poor handling of the prototype mess a few months ago) ala Southwest Airlines and the “large” blowup with director Kevin Smith.
PR solutions for now involve mitigating the damage and putting procedures into place to handle the next crisis (and yep, sorry Apple, there will inevitably be more PR troubles in your future. Like death and taxes, Steve).
- Mitigating damage usually involves being readily transparent from the get-go. Your pride be damned. If you’re wrong, admit it, apologize, fix it, then drive on– or face the consequences. Half-assed fixes and vain hopes that it will “all go away” are stupid and just make things worse.
- Have a crisis communications plan in place. Now. If you don’t have one, you better get one. Consider it insurance–cheers if you never file a claim, but aren’t you glad you had it when the basement flooded? Click here for more on that.
- Do you have public relations professionals in place who have handled a serious media meltdown before (see Southwest Airlines link, above)? But more importantly, are they empowered to do their jobs? Having a PR pro on staff with crisis com experience is great–but if you don’t let them manage the situation (I’m talking to you Mr./Ms. CEO) then it’s like the house is on fire and you order the firefighters to sit in the fire engine while you throw gas on the blaze.
- Fix the problem. Apple customers are fiercely loyal–but there’s a limit. The grudging rebate on the initial iPhone release was the first sign that Apple’s core (sorry for the pun) customers could be taken for granted. Not smart. GM did that. Have a look at their stock price now. Oh wait, they don’t have a stock price.
After the iPhone rebate mess a few years ago, Steve Jobs said:
We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.
If only he had done this right off the bat with the iPhone 4. Perhaps at today’s press conference we will see something like that; a solid, satisfying fix for those who have purchased the iPhone 4.
Apple, your iPhone is ringing. Pick up the phone.
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Apple, Bad pr, Brand identity, Branding, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, iPhone 4, iPhone 4 PR crisis, Kansas City, media training, PR, PR strategery, PR tips, public relations blog, Steve Jobs, strategic public relations, Tony Hayward, trust agents
Regular readers will note that we have called on BP to do one thing to give them some PR breathing room: fire or otherwise silence the tone-deaf CEO Tony Hayward.
Well, looks like they have done so in the person of BP managing director Robert Dudley. Hayward has been shunted to the background in favor of the Mississippi native. He did a deft job handling Meredith Viera’s pointed questioning on this morning’s “Today Show” on NBC.
A key thing he said is that BP would be “listening” to all parties. A smart move, as this is the first step in making amends: letting people vent, express their feelings and list what they need to be made whole. This is a good first step in raising BP’s sunken PR ship. He also stayed out of the prickly federal moratorium issue.
The question is, will he make a difference over the long haul?
The Wall Street Journal’s blog has an excellent rundown of opinions from the punditocracy.
We’ll be watching, and yep, commenting on the PR moves made by all players in this tragic situation.
What do you think? The comments section awaits your thoughts.
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Working Together · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Bad pr, BP, Brand identity, British Petroleum, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, media training, Meredith Viera, NBC News, oilspill, oilspill pr, PR, public relations blog, public relations kansas city, Robert Dudley, Robert Dudley BP, Today Show, trust agents
BP’s chairman has apologized for saying the company cares about the “small people” of the Gulf Coast hit by the oil disaster — a comment met with anger by those who say they are tired of the company’s executives making insensitive remarks.
On Wednesday, Carl-Henric Svanberg told reporters in Washington: “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.” He later said he was sorry for speaking “clumsily.”
Okay, fair enough, English is not his first language, but this does not excuse his PR people–who should have vetted his remarks prior to the press conference. Certainly, CEOs can be intimidating and unwilling to do such things with underlings, but after the previous disasters it would have been prudent. I have worked as a public relations adviser in incidents of much less import and certainly a lower scale emergency, yet I insisted my boss go over his talking points with me prior to the interview. It’s what a public relations professional is supposed to do. Anything else is careless, spineless or just plain malpractice.
Also, remember when we said foot-in-mouth disease sufferer and BP CEO Tony Hayward should “take one for the team” and resign? How about another reason:
Of course, there is something to be said for taking a moment or two to “get his life back.”
Just a stunning lack of competence on the part of the BP P.R. team. I hate to pile on, but there’s just no excuse.
The disaster continues.
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations · Tagged with Alex Greenwood, AlexanderG Public Relations, Bad pr, BP, British Petroleum, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, Hayward, Kansas City, Kansas City Public Relations, little people, media training, oil spill gulf spill, oilspill, PR, PR malpractice, PR tips, strategic public relations
An Object Lesson in Media Relations…
In San Francisco, ABC7’s Dan Noyes had an interesting (and for PR pros, instructive) run-in with Laguna Honda Hospital PR chief Marc Slavin.
Noyes was probing allegations that Laguna Honda administrators inappropriately used money from the Patient Gift Fund.
On the YouTube page for this video (below) it says
According to Noyes, “Hospital Director Mivic Hirose ignored our phone calls for an interview. So, we showed up at her town hall meeting at the hospital.” That’s when the chief of community relations Marc Slavin stepped in and repeatedly patted Noyes with a hand. Each time, Noyes warned, “Do not touch me,” and one point Noyes threatened to call the cops. But like a brother bugging his little sister, Slavin continued his touchy-feely ways with Noyes and the camerawoman.
Check it out:
I worked for a few years as a public relations staffer in two major metro hospitals. I had to deal with the best and worst of the journalistic profession on events as catastrophic as the Murrah Terrorist Attack to stories about overweight kids to (sadly) routine updates on shooting victims. Almost always, reporters were professional and respectful of the operations of the hospital, understanding that it was my job to protect the privacy of our patients as well as provide an environment where our staff could do their work without distraction.
Most reporters would call ahead to schedule an interview or ask for a statement when a story was brewing. We would do our very best to accommodate them while meeting our legal, patient privacy and ethical obligations.
I do recall, however, being infuriated by certain tactics used by a tiny minority of journalists. This included the “gotcha” where they showed up unannounced with what I believed to be a clear agenda to cause trouble for the cameras.
Besides all other reasonable motives (professionalism, maturity, civility, etc.) that is one reason why I would never, ever, touch a journalist in any way–no matter how infuriating their tactics. Nor would I raise my voice or do anything provocative. My job in those situations was to get the journalist out of the building and reschedule the interview–not to make the journalist angry or put on a show for the cameras. My job was to minimize damage, not escalate it.
True, Slavin rattled Noyes, effectively taking the focus off the investigative reporting and putting it on the reporter himself, but at what price?
It’s a fairly textbook case of winning the battle but losing the war. Slavin made an ass of himself. He made the hospital–already on the hook for some pretty nasty allegations–look like it’s staffed by idiots. As I write this, the YouTube page for this video has nearly 17,000 hits, and that doesn’t begin to cover the blogs, news sites and other places where this story is being discussed.
So instead of cooling the situation down and seeking a way to get the reporter an interview (nevermind planning ahead and responding to allegations in a timely way to ensure his boss was not vulnerable to an unannounced impromptu visit), Slavin has guaranteed that the allegations have been repeated thousands of times, across the globe.
Ideally, the relationship between PR and the news media should be a balance based on mutual respect (even if it’s a grudging respect), professionalism and ethical behavior. If one side of this balance fails to meet those standards, it’s still incumbent upon the other to remain professional and keep cool. In this case, the PR “pro” reacted in an unprofessional way to a reporter’s provocative tactic.
He should have known better. Guys like Marc Slavin make the entire profession look bad. In future I hope he keeps his hands to himself.
Filed under Breaking News: The Media and You, Crisis Communications Plans, G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with ABC7 Noyes, AlexanderG Public Relations, ambush journalism, Bad pr, Crisis Communication Strategy, Crisis Communication tips, Dan Noyes, Don't Touch me, gotcha journalism, hiring a pr consultant, Kansas City, Marc Slavin, media relations, media training, PR, Public Relations
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