Resigned to Fridays

Last week’s resignation by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reminded me of a little unknown PR fact.  If one was going to trace historical events they would find out that most senior level resignations occur on Friday afternoons at 4PM. That’s right. I can’t tell you how many of my Fridays were suddenly spoiled by having a resignation to quickly handle as I was packing up for the weekend.  Why Fridays at 4?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Since I was feeling like I was home free to start enjoying the weekend, corporate lawyers also feel that most media types are feeling the same and might not notice the news.  In fact, even though, a mutual press release was ready to put on a wire – I was always instructed not to send it out unless a reporter called to confirm the story.  For you see,  company’s always want to down-play resignations, while the resigned wants the largest play possible in the media. (The resigned wants other employers to see that he is now ready to be hired.)  As you can see it’s a Catch-22 sort of thing.  And who often wins when its the company vs. an employee? That’s right. The company.

Here’s how a typical resignation scenario plays out….

  • Thursday night…Company lawyers and Senior Executive meet to discuss terms of the resignation.
  • Friday morning – Company lawyers inform the head of corporate communications to draft a release with the pertinent information
  • Friday Noon – All parties look over a draft of the release; revise and edit.
  • Friday at 4 – The executive resigning leaves the premises.
  • Friday at 5 PM – A company wide email is sent to all employees.

From that moment on, the head of corporate communications keeps a phone and email vigil waiting for the news to break.  Either a company employee will forward the company wide-email or the person resigning leaks the news to the press.


Once the media contacts the company, the approved press release is distributed with the caveat that there will be no further comments made by either side.  However, sometimes, when the PR folks are playing nice, they will forward requests to the outgoing staff member.

Think this Friday thing is a bit nuts? Well, if you look back to one of our country’s most famous resignations – that of Former President Richard Nixon – he resigned on August 9, 1974 - a FRIDAY!

A Resignation of Few Words - Richard Nixon's

Need I say more? What days do most catastrophes happen? Mondays!

Be good to yourself.


A Tough PR Act to Follow – Robert Gibbs

Robert Gibbs Was A Model Spokesman

“This doesn’t stop,” White House Press Spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “This is a tough place to work.

And that my friends, pretty much sums up why Gibbs resigned today.  Being a PR spokesperson on the front lines is very, very, very taxing and I am not surprised by his announcement and applaud Gibbs for knowing that he’s had enough.  I mean who won’t want a break from having to stay “on alert” every minute of the day, 365 days a year.  Whoever is in this post does not have a personal life for their job NEVER stops.  The only time it will stop is when the world does! And no one knows that date or hour.


As a PR pro, this is a job that I personally would never want.  Although, there are several things about the post that I would love to do, it’s the daily endless grind that would ultimately get the best of me. I can handle the pressure of being the spokesperson for companies for you can still have a life in addition to your job.  All of us in PR and in crisis communication, pretty much know that we are always on call.  At anytime we could get an unexpected message that will transcend our next hours and/or days and we will have to be prepared to act with carefully constructed comments.  We saw examples of this last year.  The press offices at BP and Toyota never expected that they would have such crises consume their lives in 2010.  These things just come out of nowhere.

But, with Gibbs, he had reporters pepper him at nauseum every day and over every imaginable topic.  Talk about being constantly on your toes.  It does get tiring.


Tony Snow was a great spokesman for the Country.

Even though I have spent years practicing this trade, I know that I must stay sharp and keep learning. One educating method I use is to observe the White House Press Secretaries for they are the best at what they do.  And you can tell a lot about them and the management of the White House by their actions and words.

I have this saying that my friends often hear: “The fish stinks from the head down.“  What that saying means is that if the person in charge runs a company with good ethics, flexibility and with open communication -the rest of the company will work that way.  If the boss is tight-lipped, dictatorial and/or very private, the company tone will be more closed as an operation.  With Gibbs, I liked him from the start. He always tried to keep an even jovial tone and one that was not combative or heavy handed, only when necessary.  That’s how I like dealing with the press too. I have deep respect for them and understand their function.  Heck, I recognize that the main reason I have my job is because there is a press corp. I also liked Tony Snow in this post too.  He had a friendly relationship with the press as well.

The White House Press Secretary is a tough job as Gibbs stated in USA Today.  He’s been advising Obama’s press comments since 2002, so he’s hung in there awhile.  He’s due for a time to re-tool.


Do you think this is a job perfectly suited for you? It takes a special breed of person to tackle this challenge.  Here’s just a short list of requirements – how many do you possess?

  • Patience
  • A thirst for world knowledge
  • Understanding of all business facets and culture
  • Press relationships
  • Fast thinker on your feet
  • Expert speaker
  • Accomplished writer
  • Voracious reader
  • Leadership abilities
  • Multi-tasker
  • Ability to pronounce foreign locations and leaders
  • Not prone to anger
  • Politically correct with word choices
  • Possess the ability to apologize
  • Thick skinned
  • Require little or no sleep
  • Speech writing
  • Strategic planner
  • Research minded
  • Great memory/ability to memorize
  • Possess a poker face
  • Love to shoot the breeze

It is a tough job. PR is not for the faint of heart.

Best wishes Robert. May you enjoy a day soon when you don’t have to read every article, comment and tweet about the USA and be responsible for defending the President. You deserve a break today. And thanks for being a good PR role-model. Much success to you and your successor.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...