As many PR pros have come to understand, this colorful, antithetical newspaper piece prompted interest from some salacious segment producers at a couple of network TV magazine shows. The question he had for me: should he agree to do these interviews to try to set the record straight or should he ignore them altogether with the hope the whole mess will go away? More on this below.
The decision to avail oneself for an on-camera interview is a nuanced one. In the last week, we watched as Penn State perv Jerry Sandusky hail-Mary'ed himself for a four-hour, on-camera, on-the-record sit-down with The New York Times. We also witnessed the once down-and-out and now Iowa frontrunner Newt Gingrich sit for a love-fest with the Faux News Channel. And finally, we learned that 82-year-old Barbara Walters snagged a (Hail Allah) interview with Syria's notorious, terrorist-supporting, and tenuous leader Bashar Al-Assad. (I wonder which PR firm facilitated that one?)
|Sandusky Talks to The Times|
I believe, however, that if the newsmaker is well-prepared, assertive and articulate, with supporting facts as back-up, a high-profile interview can produce a net-positive result in the court of public opinion, and perhaps with prospective jurors. Sandusky's mistake was that he didn't appear to have been adequately prepared, nor have credible answers to quell his accusers. He also could have applied some leverage by insisting that the final footage be posted unedited.
Most significantly, if the media world was Sandusky's oyster, why did he opt for a tough Bob Costas followed by four hours with The New York Times? Where's Larry King when you really need him?
|Gingrich on his Fave Network|
|Bashar Gets Celeb Treatment|
Nuf said here.
Now back to that litigious client prospect being chased by the TV magazine shows. I had two thoughts: The first was to have him lay low and ignore the media requests. The 24/7 news cycle will soon dissipate any interest in his story. The second idea, which I'm kinda liking better, is to have him agree to all the interviews (and more)....but for a counter-intuitive reason.
He should forgo trying to mount a successful public defense of his position on television. The segment already is written in stone, and the questions he'll be asked -- every which way but up -- will only serve to support the predetermined story premise. RATHER, he should take/milk the interview for what it's worth because in this cockamamie media culture, notoriety can breed opportunity. In other words, he's got little to lose and much to gain. (BTW - I turned down the assignment.)