Loose Lips Sink Ships

Commanded former 4-star Marine Corps general and new White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly in the immediate firing of Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci. With brash, trash-talking vulgarities in a phone interview with The New Yorker Magazine, the Mooch, as Mr. Scaramucci likes to call himself, accused the White House staff of leaks to the press and threatened to fire the entire communications staff.

Photo Courtesy of www.CNN.com

While Mr. Kelly’s concerns were reportedly the decisive factors in Mr. Scaramucci’s departure, it was reported by Mike Allen, the co-founder of the Web site Axios that, “initially, we’re told, the President loved the Mooch quotes.” But Mr. Trump’s family helped him quickly sour on his newly-appointed bombastic, Long Island-bred former hedge fund manager candidate.

Recruited as Mr. Trump’s tough-talking alter ego to ferociously fight for the President in a way others had not, Mr. Scaramucci went too far even in the eyes of a President who delights in pushing the boundaries of political and social decorum, the New York Times noted.

Sporting a blinding ambition that triggered his current divorce proceedings, the 52-year-old Wall Street financier had been “hell-bent” on claiming his position at the White House after he was originally pegged for a senior role and, in preparation, sold his Sky Bridge Capital investment firm.

Blocked by Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s then Chief of Staff whom Mr. Scaramucci characterized in the tirade as a #$%$)*&6 “paranoid schizophrenic,” and Stephen K. Bannon, the Chief White House Strategist before an aggressive campaign, Mr. Scaramucci was made the Director of Communications in mid July, triggering then Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation.

The New Yorker weighed in with: “Originally endorsed by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Mr. Scaramucci seems to have been installed to carry out Donald Trump’s management style in his personal language of obscenity and contempt to help demean and get rid of retainers who have proved disappointing or threatening to his interests.”

In addition, Mr. Scaramucci seemed to be, at least for the moment, overshadowing the President — a fact that Breitbart News, which Mr. Bannon once directed, pointed out in a headline describing Mr. Trump as second fiddle to his Communications Director.

The moral:

Mr. Scaramucci has not learned from his idol and role model, President Trump, that to threaten the media, in this case to reveal a source, and abuse his power, only heightens the scrutiny and enhances the focus of intrepid journalists.

The morning after his midnight confession, Mr. Scaramucci tweeted: “I made a mistake in ‘trusting’ a reporter. It won’t happen again.” General Kelly made certain that it won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Love All

No love was lost between John McEnroe and Serena Williams in their recent point, set, match over who is the greatest tennis player in the world today.

Advantage Williams.

Mr. McEnroe committed the most obvious of line faults. Not being Ready with an answer to an admittedly, backhanded question was an unforced error. An interview is not a conversation, but a chance to make points!

Photo Courtesy of: Saeed Khan/AFP and Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

For him to attempt a drop shot with less than a Ready answer was surprising. When there is no one officiating a match of wits, celebrity players must coach themselves with likely questions and practice Ready answers ahead of the interview.

Millions of fans are entertained watching both men’s and women’s tours which are nonetheless distinct and not meant to be pitted against each other. Parity in pay, but different leagues, a different game, different bodies.

Not squelching the controversy either, Ms. Williams could only defend herself via Twitter because she was posing naked and very pregnant for another of photographer Annie Liebovitz’s cover shots on Vanity Fair, which underscored gender differences in the most profound way.

Even for a player who’s been given great latitude over the years for his ready-fire-aim approach, tennis pro–turned broadcaster, John McEnroe should by now know the power of words; and the problems that arise when they are used in error and without strategy.

In the follow-up question, Mr. McEnroe was asked what he wanted next. His response: “I need to find that inner peace, but that’s difficult for me.”

“No bullshit,” to quote the phrase strung across the back cover of his memoir sequel, But Seriously which he is currently promoting.

Ms. Williams is a winner of 23 grand slam singles tournaments, plus 14 doubles titles with her sister Venus and has won an estimated $84 million on the court.

Two months pregnant, Ms Williams won the Australian Open and did not lose a set.

 

Now or Forever

“Speak now, or forever hold your peace,” ministers have cautioned wedding guests, since forever. But, according to BRIDES Magazine, there was no peace for the one in five new husbands whose brides were mortified by the toasts their Best Men gave.

In her latest nonfiction, Off the Cuff/ What to Say at a Moment’s Notice, communication skills coach, Anne Ready admonishes,“when in doubt, leave it out.” And, be sure to:

  • Personalize your toast, appropriately.
  • Be humorous, yet respectful.
  • Begin by outlining the key points you want to express, then expand but…
  • Follow the KISS principle “Keep It Short, Sweetheart.”
  • And finally, ask yourself what unique perspective you bring to the reception like these:

possible one-liners for toasting:

If it wasn’t for marriage, men would spend our whole lives thinking we had no faults at all.

-Married best man

I share Goethe’s wisdom with you, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

-Grandmother of the groom

If you steal, may you steal one another’s hearts. If you fight, may you fight for one another.

-Maid of Honor

All woman should know how to take care of children. Most of them will have a husband someday.

   -Divorced aunt

The entire sum of existence is the magic of being needed by just one other person.

-Single best man

May you never forget what is worth remembering and never remember what is best forgotten.

-Mother of the bride

Now will you all drink a toast with me…that their love guides them through life and echoes in eternity.

-Father of the bride

 

 

 

 

Pomp and Circumstance

Trending now is Graduation Speech Bingo for about-to-be graduates to play during the long, hot hours sitting in commencement caps and gowns with giddy parents watching their every move. The game is to see how many trite phrases are used: find your passion, it starts with us, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Here are some examples and exceptions:

 

Photo Courtesy of: Entrepreneur.com

Will Ferrell, University of Southern California  2017

Comedian Will Ferrell humorously recounted his early failures in a light-hearted commencement speech at University of Southern California. Providing graduates with a sense of comfort and reassurance, he ended with a butchered imitation of the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love you.”

 

Photo Courtesy of: AJC.com

Hillary Clinton, Wellesly College 2017

Former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton explained that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but that’s not a valid reason to give up on your dreams. Secretary Clinton was on the same stage 48 years earlier as a student speaker conveying the same message; to stand up and fight for what you believe.

 

Photo Courtesy of: CNBC.com

Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard University 2017

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and Harvard University dropout, poked fun at himself with…“If I get through this speech, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard.”

 

Photo Courtesy of: GettyImages.com

President Donald Trump, Liberty University 2017

President Donald Trump lashed out at the media during the US Coast Guard Academy commencement with “no politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly.” And again at Liberty Christian University, he reflected on his own persistence with “never ever give up”…without crediting Winston Churchill’s six words of success “never never never never give up.”

 

Photo Courtesy of: Notey.com

Dame Helen Mirren, Tulane University 2017

Dame Helen Mirren related to her college audience with “like a hangover, neither triumphs nor disasters last forever.”

 

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s often said that the camera doesn’t lie, nor does it blink. But until recently, the camera has always been in the hands of responsible and professional photographers, videographers and journalists. Not in the hands of passengers documenting airline brutality or murderers recording their own deeds as selfies.

cell phone picture

Photo courtesy of: Time.com

Now everyone with a cell phone, and that’s pretty much everyone, is a documentarian, taking cameras and matters into his or her own hands. And thanks to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, et al, there is no shortage of airtime.

Traditional print media like the New York TIMES, which narrowcasts to only those who choose to pay for it, advertises its policy of “all the news that’s fit to print.” But these social media publishers have yet to restrict the freedom of their presses.

According to Wikipedia, Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was one of the greatest and most influential Westerns of all time. But today’s citizens offer cowboy justice at its best and worst because there are no filters on these cameras.

In our Los Angeles media training and social media training world, this is the phenomena of loose cannons. Executives  must be Ready for them. It cannot be the “shoot from the hip” approach taken by United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz recently. There must be a sensible crisis plan, designed, prepared and practiced in advance.

Crisis training would have explored whether it is the best policy to boot paying customers to make way for employees.  Then, not defend employees’ actions in the face of excessive force without being aware of the details: a passenger being beaten seriously enough to cause a concussion, two broken teeth and a broken nose.

Then, after a deluge of negative traditional and social media not abjectly apologize saying Dr. David Dao “did nothing wrong.” A more appropriate response would have been, Dr. Dao was badly mistreated. But for the safety of all the passengers on my airline, everyone needs to follow the orders given by my people, even if you think those orders are stupid or unfair. And for that, I will not defend his actions either.

The cost to United Airlines in dollars and reputation is impossible to estimate. Each passenger on that flight is now being reimbursed for the price of his or her ticket, which may set a precedent that other companies will be forced to follow every time someone pictures and posts a misdeed. Finally, the passenger who was documented being dragged bloodied and broken down the aisle by countless cell phones is very likely to sue and is from Asia, an important market for the company.

The lesson, of course, is to get in front of a crisis, but to do it correctly. As the victimized doctor’s code would suggest, “First, do no harm.” And not respond impulsively without planning or design.

The world wide web offers the broadest of broadcasting possibilities to everyone who holds a cell phone. And that’s pretty much everyone.

 

Are You Ready For Your Close Up?

The score is tied 72 to 72 with 38.8 seconds left in the game. The Rhode Island Rams’ defense is giving it their all to stop Tyler Dorsey of the Oregon Ducks from scoring again and taking the lead.

Tyler Dorsey comes up inches behind the three-point line and SWOOSH! He drains it for 3, putting the Ducks in the lead in the final few seconds!

 

The star of the game, Tyler Dorsey, is being pulled every which way with congratulatory words and questions from the media.  So, what’s a student athlete to do when a journalist wants an interview? Emotions are high, excitement is in the air, and everyone wants to hear from him. But is he Ready for his close up?

According to CBS Sports NCAA roster analysis, the average age for each team ranges from 19-23 with 20 being the most common. Like most student athletes, Tyler Dorsey has little experience with the media and how to give an interview.

Mr. Dorsey scored some READY FOR MEDIA points by shooting a few charismatic smiles during his March Madness TV interview. Being conversational, i.e. looking at the journalist while answering her questions, could’ve helped Mr. Dorsey follow through and score some extra credibility for himself and the University of Oregon.

Tyler bounced back from his teammates water-dumping foul by hitting an “and-one” with his cool and collected attitude. BEEF- a mnemonic often used to teach proper shooting form- can be used when conducting an interview, too.

B- Balance (Position yourself strategically)

E- Eyes (Make eye contact with the journalist)

E- Elbow (Elbow the conversation in the direction you want it to go)

F- Follow Through (Stay on your interview agenda)

While these athletes are there to play,  they’re also creating a brand for themselves, impacting the university’s publicity, and representing the team as a whole. Are your athletes Ready for their close ups?

 

 

Mexican Standoff

Nordstrom and Ivanka Trump find themselves in a Mexican Standoff following Nordstrom’s decision to drop her fashion brand from their stores.

Mexican Standoff Blog

Photo Courtesy of: bittersweetaspects.wordpress.com

A spokeswoman for Nordstrom insisted that the company made the decision based on plummeting sales and not as a political statement following Nordstrom’s company wide pro-immigration email. “For us, the two were not connected.”

As expected, President Trump gunned-down Nordstrom in a defensive tweet. “My daughter, Ivanka, has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing.” Terrible,” he whined.

Despite Nordstrom’s explanation that this was a logical business decision, both sides remain at a stand still. Neither Ivanka Trump, the brand; nor Nordstrom, the retailer dare to make the next move and must wait until it’s made for them by their customers. Those responsible for sales!

Unfortunately, large and small companies alike, are facing boycotts and backlash from Trump supporters and non-supporters.  Some boycotted Nordstrom for selling Ivanka Trump, some for not selling Ivanka Trump.

But as the owner of one e-commerce site wrote, “for every customer I’ve lost, I’ve gained one.”

 

The Best Defense

The best defense…is a good offense. What’s a multi-national company to do when the quarterback has turned against your fans? Some companies tackled the country’s quarterback with Super Bowl ’17 commercials in an end-run.

Know your Audience photo

Photo Courtesy of: bustle.com

In the era of hashtags and social media,  Coca-Cola and Airbnb reached out to defend their international audiences in the wake of ethnic exclusion. #WeAccept was the tag line for Airbnb’s commercial featuring multicultural faces which advocated that: “The world is more beautiful, the more you accept.”

Airbnb’s co-founder, Brian Chesky, made extra points relying on hosts to volunteer their homes to stranded travelers. He announced on Twitter that the company would “provide short term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need.”

Coca-Cola had similar skin in the game with a commercial featuring “America the Beautiful” being sung in multiple languages calling for a fair catch from the new travel interceptions our country is enforcing. Although the commercial was revived from its original airing in 2014, the powerful play was now received with a different meaning.

In an environment of exclusion, Coca-Cola and Airbnb scored ads advocating for inclusion. Both companies’ knowledge of their international clientele was utilized to make a statement. An audible expressed that these American companies stand with the world.

Knowing your audience is a game changer in effectively conveying a powerful message. Airbnb has many clients that stay in American homes when visiting from abroad, while Coca-Cola is a touchdown all over the world.

Strategic uses of the media is beneficial to all companies. Even when you are blocked, strategy and preparation are key. Use communication strategy and media coaching to be Ready when it’s your turn to take the field.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Dog’s Life

“When I die, I want to come back as your dog,” is a compliment often paid to dog owners who spoil their dogs with a lavish lifestyle that is anything but a dog’s life. And we humans tend to have more than one dog in our lifetimes. Both reincarnation and the role that dogs play in our lives are the subjects of a recent movie, A Dog’s Purpose that has been met with surprising controversy.

Its a Dog's Life image

Photo Courtesy of: BrilliantDogTraining.com

The movie that intended to display the unique love we share with our dogs was targeted in an excerpt of a German Shepherd appearing to be forced into rushing water despite the dog’s reticence. Members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) the largest animal rights organization in the world and animal lovers alike reacted by dragging A Dog’s Purpose under rushing waters of criticism leaving the filmmakers in a fight to stay afloat. The conveniently-timed video release forced the studio to cancel the press junket and premiere prior to releasing A Dog’s Purpose in more than 3,000 locations following PETA’s urging of a boycott on social media.

In an attempt to regain the trust of the public, Dennis Quaid, the star of the film, expressed on NBC’s “Today” Show that the video was manipulated and spliced to look as if the dog was being abused. The presence of the American Humane Association during the filming of this scene was offered as defense that the dog could not have been abused. The AHA responded by saying that the video was “misleading and edited.”

Both parties, the filmmakers and protesters alike, used the media to advantage in a battle attempting to defend or destroy the film and their points of view.

Despite the activists’ attempts to drown the film and perhaps, unintended publicity,  A Dog’s Purpose was able to tread water and broke the 18.4 million dollar mark as the #2 movie in its debut weekend. Decide for yourself!

Do Your Homework!

Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers and Mark Twain all quipped, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

President-elect Trump’s candidate for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, failed to make the grade and tested the patience of yesterday’s Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

Photo Courtesy of: Blog.Ted.com

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) a longtime proponent of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) confessed to MSNBC that she was very concerned that Ms. DeVos seemed confused or unfamiliar with the fact that the IDEA is a federal law that the Secretary of Education would be charged with enforcing! It is a law that hits close to home for many, including Senator Hassan.

The prospective Secretary of Education continued to display her lack of Readyness when she repeatedly asked Senator Al Franken (D – Minnesota) for clarification on a policy of measuring proficiency vs. growth that he deemed, “a subject that has been debated in the education community for years,” then proceeded to say, “it surprises me that you don’t know this issue.”

Not only was Ms. DeVos vague on her answers, she failed until the very end to bridge to points she should have come to make : her qualifications, her passion for “children and education with 30-years as a voice for parent, uh students, and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D – Conn) who’s been very vocal on gun control since the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary, asked, “Do you think guns have any place in or around schools? You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?”

“Well,” Ms. DeVos responded, “I will refer back to uh, Senator Enzi” (R – Wyoming)  “I would imagine there are guns in the schools there to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Clearly, this applicant failed to educate herself on the questioners, learn the questions that would be dearest to them and give honest, informed answers. Why didn’t she research the subject? Why didn’t she hire a “tutor” to practice mock interviews with video feedback and constructive critique? Why didn’t she do her homework?

The most telling question of all came from recent Presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders (D – Vermont) who challenged her as the teacher’s pet: “If you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to the Republican Party, would you be sitting here today?

Ms. DeVos’ admitted, “Senator, as a matter of fact, I do think that there would be that possibility.”