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?
THE COMPANY USUALLY WINS THE PR BATTLE
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.
FRIDAYS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY ARE CRACKED UP TO BE
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!
Need I say more? What days do most catastrophes happen? Mondays!
Be good to yourself.