Avoiding Public Relations Bloopers

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Public Relations Bloopers Lessons

Bad news can mean good news coverage….but most of the time PR bloopers just spell disaster. Funny examples of why sometimes shutting your mouth can be a good thing.

Someone has just antagonized you and instead of avoiding the pitfall, you…and me included…..fall into the pitfall of a PR (Public Relations) nightmare. Did you just say what you think you said?

This article exposes mistakes that can make us sound utterly stupid…in a humorous way. Let these bloopers motivate you to speak smoothly and succinctly.

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules”

Top 4 PR Mistakes Turning Good News into Bad News

  1. Reacting rather than thoughtfully speaking
  2. Unpracticed answers for potential controversial issues
  3. Arguing with the media or customers who then complain to media outlets
  4. Looking nervous – never looks good

Reactive Speech Will Damage
When you think it, maybe you shouldn’t say it. Quick example of what happens when you pretend not to hear that little voice in your head.

Reactive speech mistake examples:

”I could give a flying crap about the political process … We’re an entertainment company.”

—FOX News Channel’s Glenn Beck, Forbes interview, April, 2010

He’s on the news! (laughing) S-T-U-P-I-D statement even though it hasn’t hurt his ratings…you, as a business person, may not be so lucky with an intelligent comment to the media.

”The Cambridge police acted stupidly.”

—Barack Obama, commenting on a white police officer’s arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. who was carrying no identification while entering his home in Cambridge, Mass., at a news conference, July 22, 2009

Presidential lesson: Make sure you know the situation you are discussing. This comment triggered outcry from law enforcement officials, because they are required by law to confirm an unknown person’s identification.

Unpracticed Answers for Controversial Issues
You better know your answers in advance. A prepared answer may turn controversy into “good” a news story. But how?

  • Review controversial issues with staff prior to interviews
  • Outline and practice responses to controversies
  • Never say, “I don’t know.” Reply you will get back to the reporter with the answer
  • Even if the media interview is about a project, know about the company’s other projects and outstanding issues to be prepared
  • Avoid getting lured into a media “quote” trap and always provide positive statements

An example of reaction-based media statements is below

”I’m not a witch…I’m you.”

—Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, in a 30-second ad responding to video clips from her past in which she said she dabbled in witchcraft, Oct. 4, 2010

Uh what? (laughing) Well can you run to the store and grab some groceries before you come home from my job since you are me? O’Donnell’s public relations rep could have prevented her from being on the dumbest quotes list for 2010.

Arguing With the Media Is Just Bad
Newspaper print lasts forever, especially online, so be careful. I am the example here.

A reporter emailed me to ask why I had not sent out a press release about a park closing for part of the day. I responded that I had emailed the media to alert them but media half the time ignored press releases of unimportant issues like that. He published the email in the Naples Daily News with me saying in essence that the media ignores the press releases I was sending, which is not what I meant!

Learn from my mistake, because of course the media did publish the majority of my press releases.

Know Your Business
You could fall into a trap during a media interview with a question like, “Is that project running on time?”

You reply, “Yes we are running on schedule.” Then the reporter replies, “We talked to code enforcement today and some violations could postpone the opening, didn’t you know?”

Be prepared and know your company’s news. If you don’t know the answer, say you’ll get back to the reporter.

Acting Nervous Looks Suspicious
Even if the reporter doesn’t pick up on it, the television viewer will for TV interviews. So interview with ease, and if you can’t, get a staff member who can.

Use these tips to put your best “media” foot forward! Contact DREAMFly Marketing or post questions here.

About Camden Smith

Camden Smith has written 77 posts for Marketing Magnetics.

Camden Smith owns DREAMFly Marketing with 16 years in strategic marketing and television journalism. Her cutting-edge, aggressive marketing skills have earned her numerous awards. Smith lives in Naples, Florida with her daughter London.



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  • Jim Ellis

    I like your humorous insightful style and believe that sometimes saying nothing is the more intelligent choice.

    • Eric Tanner

      So true Jim!

  • Eric Tanner

    News bloopers are great for laughs but terrible for business. This is great advice. Hope everyone takes it.

    • http://www.dreamflymarketing.com Camden Smith

      Wait until you see our blooper list this Fall – coming out in December. You’ll be laughing!