Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Clinton Spokesperson Vs. BuzzFeed Journalist

Emotions tend to run high when hard hitting events happen that are of public interest. It is important that PR reps and spokespeople maintain positive relationships with members of the media. After the unfortunate shooting of Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ in Benghazi, Libya, the public wanted answers and the media wanted to give them to them.

Shortly after the fatal attacks, CNN found the Ambassador's journal. After returning the journal to the family, CNN displayed excerpts on its network which indicated that there may have been a security risks detected, contrary to reports by the State Department that claimed they had no prior knowledge of a security risk. BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings fully supported the showing of these excerpts, but Clinton spokesman, Philippe Reines, did not.

Hastings and Reines exchanged a thread of heated emails, which ended in Reines telling hastings to "[Censored] off" and Hastings making claims about Reines' relationships with women. The two men have since settled into their corners, keeping any other remarks out of the public's ear. Read more excerpts from the email exchange here.

This serves as the perfect example of how to mismanage media relations. Both sides clearly felt passionately about his position on the topic, but forgot these simple media relation tips when it came down to expressing sentiments:

  • Don't burn bridges: Not only has Michael Hastings lost a credible source for future stories, Philippe Reines has lost a media outlet. This will not help either side in future endeavors.
  • Remain polite: The use of profanities by both men is unacceptable. They may have thought their words would remain trapped inside the safe boundaries of an email chain, but that is no excuse for fowl language. They should have remembered that ANYTHING can go public.
  • Keep your emotions in check: Both Hastings and Reines were looking out for the best interests of their industries. It is easy to be pulled out of your element when dealing with topics you're passionate about, but you should never let your emotions get the best of you.
How do you think the men should handle themselves moving forward?

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