It is always a risk to speak to the press: they are likely to report what you say.
Hubert H. Humphrey
While running a media training workshop a few years ago, I got to the point in the session where I shared this simple but golden nugget, “While you have zero control over reporters, you have 100% control over what comes out of your own mouth.”
A Brit in the course, drolly replied, “If only that were true…”
Apparently, the young lad had a rather bad experience after attempting to wing a radio interview. Unprepared and nervous, he’d let his mouth take over from his brain and it wandered into dangerous territory.
And that’s exactly why media love to get people relaxed and talking and talking and talking.
I thought about this fellow earlier this week when a story broke about an Alberta driver that was fined almost $300 for texting while at a Tim Horton’s drive-thru.
What the what? You can get a ticket for texting while parked waiting for your coffee? How un-Canadian. The Internet blew up. From outrage at the heavy handedness of cops to jokes about police hanging about donut shops.
But wait, there’s two sides to every story, right? When reporters went to the police officer in question, it turned out the driver had left out a few pertinent facts. (http://goo.gl/BJreuh)
Then, when the media went back to the driver for clarification, he seemed to forget that he had 100% control over his own words, and he let go sharing a social media post where he not only admitted to giving the officer the finger, he also said:
“I called him a useless pig f**k. I’m pretty sure I asked if he seriously felt he was helping anything.”
So here’s a guy who a) did something stupid, b) unnecessarily went to the media and lied about doing something stupid, c) got caught, d) lost his temper over getting caught, and e) embarrassed himself needlessly in front of the whole world.
Please folks, don’t ever blindly engage with reporters, whether out of naivety or hubris. But if you do find yourself in front of a microphone unprepared, don’t lie. The truth will find a way.
Inspired by a little blackcoffee
Some of my favourite moments are spent in search of something beautiful while I drink my first cup of coffee and hear the house wake up. From there I move on to the paper and the news of the day. In this space, I’ll share some of those inspirations.
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