The idea for this blog came to while watching the Academy Award nominated Sony film “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. “Moneyball” is the real-life story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics. I highly recommend this movie if you haven’t seen it for there’s one scene in the movie that strongly resonated with me for its PR application.
There’s one particular section toward the middle of the movie where GM Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) teaches *Asst. GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) a lesson on how to fire or trade players. Beane tells Brand that the best way is the quickest way – to come right out and say it with no sugar coating. And after a few beats, I thought that this was great advice for us all.
LESS IS ALWAYS BEST!
I’ve always taught executives and students to say the least amount whenever questioned about a particular subject that is “sticky” like a contract dispute, layoffs, work stoppage or a late delivery and especially if what they say could be used in a court of law.
I also believe it’s best to get right to the elephant in the room and not beat around the bush. If a client was arrested, verify it. If damage was caused by one of your workers say so. Diffuse the situation at hand right away. Hemming and hawing in PR always backfires.
Here’s an example that might help you see exactly what I mean.
Scenario – A reporter called you about something you didn’t want known and now you have a “gotcha” moment. He/she found out something that you didn’t want the press to know. Let’s say that you are firing your CEO and it has leaked.
Taking a page out of Beane’s book the best response would be…”Yes, Mr. Reporter, it’s true John Doe is leaving our company as CEO and will be pursuing other endeavors. The separation details are still being worked out and there are no announcements as to a successor.” The Reporter will try to ask you a few more details, but you hold firm and reinterate what you’ve communicated. But, by coming clean and not going further into detail, you’ve diluted the story and taken the wind out of its sails. Therefore, the best approach is a direct reproach. In Beane’s world – a direct approach is just like a fastball pitch. It’s fast, on target and hard to hit.
So practice throwing fastballs and less PR curve balls.
What do you think? I’d love to know.
*The character of Peter Brand is fictional. The real-life Brand is Paul DePodesta who chose not to have his name used in the movie. DePodesta left Beane 18 months after the 2002 season in which the movie is based. DePodesta is a Vice President of player development at the Mets.
About The Author
When not observing PR trends, Cindy actively seeks out the day’s headlines to communicate and learn from real-life applications and that sometimes does take her to the ballpark. Bring on Spring Training. Practice pitching.