PR TIP: TAKE A STANCE TO HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Gray is Never a Safe Area Nor A Marketing Choice

One thing you are never going to hear from a medical doctor is that you’re half-pregnant. A woman is either pregnant or not. There are no other alternatives. It’s black or white, not gray. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t be half-pregnant in regards to business and/or marketing. In fact, in my humble opinion, I feel this diagnosis of late is in epidemic proportions.

How I define half-pregnancy in marketing and business is as such: “Trying to offend anyone or anything by choosing a side, even when a side is presented.” Again, this my definition and is not official.

GO AHEAD AND TAKE A SIDE

Half-pregnancy is a common practice in politics. Politicians are always trying to walk a fine line to please all parties. They are very careful when they make “stands” on issues and subjects that they try to make sure that both political parties will agree to some or all of the parts.

It’s this ‘not wanting’ to offend that impregnates the situation. And, that tightrope places that “said” person or thing in the vast and valueless wasteland of the dreaded “gray area.” Whenever you set out to become like Switzerland (slang meaning – not making waves or taking any sides… being neutral), then you are setting yourself up to not gain attention. Its similar to this saying – ‘When a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make noise?’

Taking a stance, side and position is important in making noise. Politicians want to be remembered and not forgotten because their words lacked opinion or substance.  But in this day and age of transparency (being authentic), it’s very easy for people to find out information. If you want to hold the line that you don’t have a particular agenda, they can find out in a matter of seconds if that’s indeed true.

Hello, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up! Does anyone hear me?- Flickr Credit: Sage

To make this point a bit clearer, let’s look at this hypothetical situation.  Jane Doe is running for State Governor and she says as a female she believes that women should have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies and that birth begins at the moment of conception. She is referring to both the pro-life and pro-choice abortion movements with her professed beliefs.  But, she has regularly attended pro-life rallies and fundraisers as a part of her Catholic parish, as such it would be easy to figure out she leans more toward that cause. Which to me is fine. I am trying to make the point here that is fine to take sides, in fact its beneficial. Be who you are and make stances. Otherwise, the noise you make maybe only heard by you and that’s not a good PR move.

LEARNING THE HARD WAY

I found this out myself.  Here’s what happened to me. When I entered college I wanted to pursue a career as as sportscaster (don’t laugh too hard). With that, I was able to finagle being the guest on a local radio sports show.  It was my first foray into media and I was nervous, yet excited about the opportunity.  Five minutes into the interview he asked me my opinion about who would win the “freeway series,” between The Los Angeles Dodgers and then the California Angels.  I said something to the effect like “both teams seemed to performed strongly in pre-season” – I was in Switzerland, I gave a valueless “gray answer” and boy I got ripped when we went to the next commercial. The local sportscaster told me if I wanted a future in the business, I needed to have an ‘opinion’ on everything and I had to boldly state it. Otherwise, I would never make it. I needed to take a stance; he was right and that thought has stuck with me ever since.

I also often use this statement that I overheard somewhere…”when throwing a dinner party, it’s best to invite guests of differing opinions. Otherwise, it would make for one boring and long dinner discussion if we all agreed on the same subjects.” I so agree. We all can learn from each other.

So I’m taking a stance against the gray area and half-pregnancy and hope that you will call me out if you see me falling into this common practice. Is this something you have experienced too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Arnold’s PR Problem

Arnold had one heck of a PR Mess on his Hands.

It’s tough when public figures behave badly for they’re scrutinized more than your average Joe. One celebrity feeling the impact of his actions is Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In case you missed the story, he recently admitted to his wife, Maria Shriver and his entire family, that ten years ago he fathered a love child.  A boy to one of their own household staff. This all happened under this family’s nose and the story never leaked until today.

Being a former politician, Arnold understands the importance of “spin” and “damage control.” These are two words that he needs act upon now more than ever, in addition to hiring a top-notch crisis management PR firm. I love practicing my PR trade with real-life examples, and, therefore, if Arnold became my client…here’s the advice I’d give him at this time.

FREE PR ADVICE FOR ARNOLD

(1). LAY LOW – The best thing Arnold can do is lay low and stay out of the spotlight. He needs to get his house in order first and start working on how he is going to handle announcing the name of his love child. He doesn’t need to be dining with anyone or attending out of town conferences for he is going to be followed at nauseum by the paparazzi. The paparazzi are on high alert to capture Arnold with any women and especially to snap photos with the mother of his love child. Hence, the real need is to be discreet because he is going to be followed every where he goes.

(2.) TABLOIDS – At this very moment, the tabloids are working overtime to come up with the name and photos of his love child. My advice is that Arnold needs to control the story and out him himself. He should work with a press-friendly TV reporter on a national news program and give an exclusive interview.  He needs to do anything he can to protect that kid from being humiliated by the tabloids or paparazzi if they get to him first.

(3.) FORCED VACATION – I would put the love child in a lock down situation and I would do the same for the mom. They should be vacationing somewhere where they couldn’t be found until a media strategy is in place that will announce their identities.

(4.) BE ON GUARD – Arnold needs to be vigilant regarding his actions.  He needs to take the time that is necessary to heal the wounds with his family and should not be seen conducting business at say places like casinos or on yachts.  He must keep his profile low.

(5). AVE MARIA – Maria is in a good place. The statement she issued was spot on and requires no further explanation. The world understands what she is going through and it needs to give her space for this is a private family matter.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

This is not the first time a celebrity or politician has fathered a love child and it won’t be the last. In time, Arnold will gain back his stature as well as his credibility and integrity if he handles this sensitive situation right. It’s a difficult time for all involved and their press strategists need to do whatever they can to help this family situation remain private.

Yes it stinks that Arnold kept this occurrence a secret from his family and from the voters. Arnold knew that if he copped to this incident before he was elected, then he would not have been elected.  And now that the cat is out the bag, I guess you can say that Californian’s feel cheated because they didn’t now the whole truth about him.

Arnold has much damage control to do not only with his immediate family of 5, and his love clan of 2, but also with the over 37 million California residents.

If any one can handle this situation, it’s Arnold. Never count that guy out.

I’ll keep my eye on this case and provide PR insights when needed. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you would do if you were Arnold.

Cindy

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