Posts Tagged ‘Bill Belichick’
Late last week, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and Quarterback Tom Brady (below) tried to take the air out of accusations that they had intentionally deflated game balls during their AFC Championship Game win.
Unfortunately, it looked as if the Patriots’ PR staff didn’t consider the background those two spokespersons would be standing in front of while denying the charge. As both men spoke, an advertisement for Gillette’s “Flexball” razor served as their backdrop, an unfortunate coincidence noted by thousands of people on social media.
(There are two other possible explanations—one, the Patriots were under a legal obligation to use that background, and two, Gillette willingly took the risk to be associated with this controversy in return for the additional exposure.)
The Patriots are far from alone in using an ill-considered background. In 2010, for example, MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced his network’s new branding strategy in a self-produced video—while CNN played in the background.
Last year, the former U.S. ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein, gave an interview to the BBC with what looked to be a sloppy dorm room behind him. I dubbed this “the worst webcam background I’ve ever seen.”
And in one of my all-time favorite clips that readers of this blog have seen before, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey—while turkeys were being slaughtered behind her.
I gave some advice about choosing the right background in my book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need To Know Before Your Next Interview:
“Company representatives might stand on a bustling factory floor to show their business’s vitality. Marine biologists might remove their shoes and deliver an interview from the water’s edge. A health expert discussing the seriousness of diabetes might choose to do an interview from a local hospital’s emergency room.
Your background is even more important during a crisis. As a general rule of thumb, don’t display your logo during a crisis. Why help the audience remember that your brand is associated with bad news? That means you shouldn’t stand in front of any signs, buildings, or awnings that feature your company’s symbol. Also avoid wearing any clothing, caps, or pins that bear your company’s name.”
It’s easy to understand how these things happen: We become so fixated on the messages we want to deliver that we too often forget about the optics. So before your next interview, take a quick glance around you to make sure nothing in the background could conflict with your message.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, media training tips, press conference, sports, Tom Brady
Posted in Crisis Communications | Please Comment »
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is no stranger to challenging media situations.
In recent years, he’s had to address his team’s notorious participation in the 2007 “Spygate” scandal, welcome the potentially distracting Tim Tebow to his roster, and, most recently, deal with player Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with first-degree murder earlier this summer.
Belichick’s “be boring” approach is evident in his press conference about the Aaron Hernandez murder charges. (Questions begin at the 7:15 mark.)
Since you’re probably not a football coach, here’s a question of greater relevance for you: Should you ever “be boring” on purpose? Is “nice and dull” a winning media relations strategy?
If you’ve read The Media Training Bible, you know that I generally propose being an engaging media spokesperson who delivers sound bites reporters love and the public remembers. Doing so not only helps to build your brand, but keeps you high on a reporter’s list of sources to call; if you can deliver a great interview, reporters know they’ll get what they need from you and keep calling.
But as Belichick’s press conference points out, there are times you want your presence in a story to be minimized. (Here are four ways to minimize or kill a news story.)
For the purposes of this article, I’m referring to message discipline and “being boring” as two different things. (After all, you can still deliver a memorable media sound bite while being on message.)
Below are three examples of when “being boring” might work.
1. You agree to an interview about a topic you’d prefer not receive a lot of attention.
If you deliver a great media sound bite, that very well may become the headline—which would only serve to magnify the story and make it more memorable. Using purposefully uninteresting language would serve up little to make the story bigger.
2. You’re a politician who is a part of a negative story along with three other politicians of equal rank.
You know that the other three politicians are also speaking to the reporter. If you’re purposefully boring, odds are the reporter will give more ink to one of your other three political peers, one of whom will presumably say something more interesting. The same principle applies if you’re talking about business competitors or a controversy involving three other not-for-profit groups.
3. You work in an unpopular industry.
Some of our clients work in controversial industries. They prefer to do their work under the radar—not because they’re engaged in a nefarious effort, but because the media and/or the public too often misunderstand or mischaracterize the nature of their work. Still, there are times they must speak on the record, and being boring is a great way to help keep the story less dramatic.
In closing, though, I’d advise most clients in most situations not to engage in the “be boring” strategy. For most of us, our goal is to build our brands and reinforce our reputations. And developing positive long-term relationships with reporters and delivering media-friendly responses is usually the best way to accomplish that.
A grateful hat tip to @PatrickCoffee of PRNewser.
Can you think of other situations when the “be boring” strategy might be helpful? Have you ever used it? Please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Tags: advanced media training technique, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, sports
Posted in Media Training Tips | Please Comment »