. The Transom .

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An example of how not to make a point

There's no need to read between the lines when people make poor quotes in the media. Whether you're a CEO or resident expert, no amount of "it was taken out of context" can help your case when you botch an interview. That's why preparation is so important and why media training should be a required course for any company spokesperson. Take the following example by St. Louis Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty. Commenting on the suspicion of alcohol in the very unfortunate death of pitcher Josh Hancock, Jocketty said:

"We're not trying to cover up this thing. A lot of stuff is unfolding, and we're learning it as it comes out. But we're also trying to respect the family and their wishes. Once the entire investigation is done and we get the facts, then we'll be able to react to it and determine what we have to do, and what we have to say."

Translation: We're trying to cover up this thing until we can figure out how to protect ourselves.

In all honesty, you can't blame Jocketty. It's his job to play defense for the organization in times like this. He could have come off much cleaner, and more sincere, if he had been more honest and direct and said something like, "At this point, we're cooperating fully with the authorities in this investigation. Once we know what really happened we'll be in a position to respond. Out of respect for the family and the organization, it would be inappropriate to speculate what may or may not have happened."

Unfortunately, many executives only look to the counsel of their public relations staff when they want to boast about something good. But communication is a two-way street. Take advantage of it in the good times, and in the bad.

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