Roland Burris blames the media for his troubles. A good example of bad media relations.

Posted by Dan Keeney

Last week I posted an article on the DPK Public Relations Web site regarding the unique challenges that news conferences present. Smarty pants journalists try to show each other how clever they are with rat-a-tat-tat questions. The pace can be overwhelming as questions fly at the spokesperson from every direction — both literally and figuratively.

I think Lance Armstrong did a great job of defusing what could have been a difficult situation at a news conference in advance of the Tour of California, so I showcased it as a best practice in the article, Lance Armstrong illustrates how to handle difficult journalists.

So it is interesting timing that my brother pointed me to video of the weekend news conference of Senator Roland Burris answering questions about his omission of important facts in his testimony during the Blagojevich impeachment hearings.

The strategy behind the decision to address the media is a bit of a mystery, since Burris clearly believes he has done nothing wrong and that the media is trying to whip up a story out of nothing. But what precipitated all this was his decision to issue an affidavit to the committee, and he did that for a reason: he clearly believed that the record was incomplete and he wanted to make sure all the pertinent facts were disclosed.

Just imagine how different this news conference would have gone had Senator Burris simply started his remarks with a quick statement that said he was sorry for not seizing the opportunity to fully disclose the facts when he first had the chance to do so while testifying. All he would have to say is that he regretted not being more clear or wished he had been given more time to respond more comprehensively. Instead, he took a very defensive position and stated repeatedly that he answered truthfully and accurately in his testimony.

The statement contradicts his actions. If he was comfortable with his testimony, he would not have needed to clarify it through the affidavit. So why won’t he just say he regretted not being more forthcoming?

Pride and ego are great for helping people achieve a lot in life. They are not so great when it comes to spokespersons. A great spokesperson needs to be humble AND confident. Accepting of their own limitations AND powerful. It’s not easy.

It also helps if you tell your attorney to sit down and shut up. The whole tone of the news conference goes south when the attorney tries to show off. Bulletin for all the attorneys out there: journalists do not answer to you. They do not particularly respect you. They think you are full of it. You are hurting your clients. So back off and let your client express regret and begin the work of repairing their reputation.








 






 






 
 

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 16th, 2009 at 6:09 pm and is filed under PR Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Roland Burris blames the media for his troubles. A good example of bad media relations.”

  1. The PR Counselor Blog Says:

    Consultant follows his own bad advice, says he didn’t give Burris bad advice

    Photo courtesy of Points By Dre Prewitthttp://pointsbypritt.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/the-man-behind-the-curtain/Last week, in the post, “Roland Burris blames the media for his troubles. A good example of bad media relations,” I examined the disastrous performance of Senator Roland Burris at a news conference that had been called to discuss his evolving story about contacts with staff and family members of ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagovevich. If you haven’t seen the videos of the news conference, they are priceless. Just a great example of how bad things can get.Now, according to …

  2. The PR Counselor Blog Says:

    Consultant follows his own bad advice, says he didn’t give Burris bad advice

    Photo courtesy of Points By Drew Prewitthttp://pointsbypritt.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/the-man-behind-the-curtain/Last week, in the post, “Roland Burris blames the media for his troubles. A good example of bad media relations,” I examined the disastrous performance of Senator Roland Burris at a news conference that had been called to discuss his evolving story about contacts with staff and family members of ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagovevich. If you haven’t seen the videos of the news conference, they are priceless. Just a great example of how bad things can get.Now, according to …

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