Archives for June 2010

Don’t Shove the Messenger!

When you ask the really hard questions, the CEO may lead with a hard right!

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This week’s International Herald Tribune reports that California’s now-candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, went too far as eBay’s hard-hitting CEO and paid dearly for it.  Seems Ms. Whitman “forcefully pushed” an eBay corporate communications employee who was attempting to prepare her for a news media interview and paid a six-figure sum to avoid a threatened lawsuit.

To “Ready” a CEO for a journalist’s potential aggressiveness is virtually impossible for an employee.

The best preparation for war is training with live ammunition.  It takes an external professional in media training to go head-to-head with your company’s spokesperson or CEO.  It’s not as hard on the employees and may save your company a black eye.

More Red-faced than Ready

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Ann Curry, seasoned journalist of NBC TODAY Show fame was more Red-faced than Ready after giving a commencement address at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.  Her attempt to inspire and connect to the graduating class took a wrong turn when she began mentioning their renowned Wheaton alums.  Her list included “60 Minutes” correspondent, Leslie Stahl, evangelist Billy Graham, film director Wes Craven and United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer.  Apart from Ms. Stahl, seems these famous folks actually attended a different Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

The moral is that no matter who does your research, or how well you stand and deliver, you as the speaker are ultimately responsible for what you say!

Fellow commencement speaker, Cokie Roberts learned a similar lesson in a commencement speech at Duke.

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After she opened with a joke about the school’s poor football performance, a number of her student audience walked out before she could continue.