In the Public Eye

It’s often said, the camera doesn’t lie. Nor or does it blink. The same can be said of social media.

Recently Mrs. Louise Linton Mnuchin, the new since-June wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin documented her posh summer lifestyle in Italy and France publicly on Instagram, complete with a parade of designer tags…”#TomFord,” “#Valenrinorockstudheels,” and #HermesScarf.” However, a brand spokesperson said these were not free products or compensation, The New York Times reported, for her “label-loving shoutout.”

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

But the public arrogance begged for a defacing of her Wikipedia page, which can be edited by anyone. Following this criticism, Mrs. Mnuchin’s Instagram post featured herself as she and her husband and Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell disembarked from a government jet.

Commenting on the public posting, a 45-year-old mother of 3 from Oregon criticized her photo op, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”

Grammatical error

Mrs. Mnuchin fired back defensively without the benefit of a grammar check….

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote.

“I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

And finally, “You’re adorably out of touch.”

Touché.

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 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.

 

 

 

 

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.”

If the Shoe fits …

A number of media faux pas (literally false steps) were made recently at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in New York City.

puma

Photo Courtesy of: HIGHSNOBIETY

Winning the Retailer of the Year award, Ronnie Fieg, a New York footwear and clothing designer had “no comment” when asked about his collaboration with New Balance, the brand that “put its foot in it” in November. Their spokesperson seemed to endorse President-elect Donald J. Trump and the comment prompted shoe burning and trashing by its young customers. The moral, know your audience.

“I’m not going to speak on that,” I don’t get political,” Mr. Fieg said. Media coaching would have helped him be more positive about his sponsor.

Cuba Gooding Jr., the actor, was more prepared for the media, putting brands in a positive light. Given that the Shoe of the Year was a sneaker, he was asked whether he was a sneaker man.

“No, but I used to be,” he said. “I used to be a breakdancer back in the ’80s, and you weren’t worth your weight unless you wore Converse high-tops.” Now, however, he’s all about the work boot. “I live in my Blundstones,” he said. “I have eight pairs. They’re all black.”

And the whole point of having a celebrity spokesperson is, well, that she is a spokesperson. Rihanna, who received the Shoe of the Year award for her collaborative project with Puma, the Creeper (above) refused interviews. That put the shoe on the other foot for Puma’s Director of Brand and Marketing who offered glowing reviews of the singer-cum-designer, noting that the partnership had cast the brand in a new light.

But one attendee, the Icon Award winner, Iris Apfel, 95 (interior and fashion designer and business woman) left a footprint of levity on the evening’s festivities.

Stepping up to the stage with the help of Michael Atmore, the editorial director of Footwear News, and another younger man, she noted: “It’s nice to be old and have two pieces of beefcake escort you … whomever they voted for.”

In My Own Words

It’s said that justice is blind. But justices can be blindsided, too.

Courtesy of: Sebastian Kim, for Time Magazine

Courtesy of: Sebastian Kim, for Time Magazine

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg promoted her new book, My Own Words in an interview with Katie Couric. Seeming not to have availed herself of media training before her book tour, Justice Ginsburg found herself giving an opinion on a topic with which she was unfamiliar. Famous for her outspokenness on the Court, the justice was asked to comment on several athletes’ refusal to stand for the national anthem at the beginning of their games. She acknowledged their right to protest, but added that they would only exercise that freedom “if they want to be stupid.”

An opinion heard round the world, more for its source than for its sentiment. Justice Ginsburg was one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2015,’

Ms. Couric did exactly what an investigative journalist is meant to do: elicit answers to provocative questions. Being Ready for an interview means preparing answers ahead of time (Why I wrote My Own Words) (Some of my more controversial decisions have been …) (How the world and the court have changed since I went on the bench in 23 years ago in 1993) to smoothly address to questions.

After learning more about the athletes’ reasoning and intentions from a different bench, Justice Ginsburg swiftly apologized for her “harsh” comments. Because, even a Supreme Court Justice can sound unjust in the court of public opinion.

Pro-testing!

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” became Paul Newman’s mantra in his 1967 movie, Cool Hand Luke.

Recently, popular San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick failed to communicate his reason for taking a knee vs. standing to observe the national anthem. Protesting police brutality of blacks is a justifiable cause by the football star who finally was quoted as saying “I’m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

colin-kneeling

Photo courtesy of: USA Today

But Mr. Kaepernick failed to announce his stand (or in this case, not standing) beforehand, perhaps in a press conference or media interview and, therefore, his protest was totally misunderstood.

Notably, during the 28th annual salute to the military hosted at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, retired Navy Seals parachuted into the stadium to present a giant American flag to a crowd filled with former and current military. But Mr. Kaepernick continued to not stand. An angry fan described the action as, “extremely disrespectful,” and even argued that the quarterback “shouldn’t be playing football if he can’t stand up for his country and support the men and women who put their lives on the line.” Additionally, Mr. Kaepernick’s retaliation against police brutality exists within city justice systems, and does not extend to the military on a national level.

Other athletes have used their position of fame and influence to speak out against these same issues. NBA superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul used presentation skills of poise, humility and persuasiveness to stand together at the opening of the 2016 ESPY Awards and verbally deliver a call to action.

“Kap” hasn’t had the media training that savvier pro-testers have … to know how to use the media as a communications tool. It’s all part of learning the media game and how to play it!

Off the Record

The media is never “off the record,” and now Joe Ledington knows this all too well. He’s the nephew of Harland David Sanders, also known as KFC’s founder and fast food emperor, Colonel Sanders. In an interview with freelance reporter Jay Jones for the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Ledington revealed a handwritten recipe of “11 herbs and spices” on the back his late aunt’s last will and testament.

Mr. Jones was writing a piece about Corbin, Kentucky, the hometown of Colonel Sanders, as part of a travel feature and published the recipe, ingredient for ingredient. He wrote that Mr. Ledington had shared his aunt’s photo album as well as stories of his adolescence working for the Colonel. When they happened upon the recipe, Mr. Ledington confirmed it as the very copy he referenced to mix the ingredients for his summer job.

“These are the original 11 herbs and spices that are supposed to be so secretive.”

Photo Courtesy www.gossipkatta.com

Photo Courtesy www.gossipkatta.com

 

Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, made this statement:

“In the 1940s, Colonel Sanders developed the original recipe chicken to be sold at his gas station diner. At the time, the recipe was written above the door so anyone could have read it. But today, we go to great lengths to protect such a sacred blend of herbs and spices. In fact, the recipe ranks among America’s most valuable trade secrets.”

We have to admit, the “secret recipe” is a clever marketing ploy. KFC claims the Colonel’s handwritten recipe is kept in a 770-pound safe behind two feet of concrete, motion detectors and video cameras. They even order ingredients from multiple companies so no one will crack the blend. But surely feathers were ruffled at the perceived legitimacy of Mr. Ledington, who claimed that the “special ingredient” he remembers from his younger days was the white pepper.

He served as a “loose cannon,” which a brand can ill afford, and why group media coaching becomes so valuable for all concerned.

Although the chickens have come home to roost, homemade Kentucky fried chicken probably won’t beat the price or  convenience of the 12-piece Original Recipe Bucket Meal anytime soon!

Remembering what’s important

With decades of experience in coaching, we understand the importance of encouragement in the face of struggle and frustration. A touching moment between a coach and a player at the Little League World Series was caught on live television, warming hearts across the country. The coach also happened to be the player’s father.

It was the first game in the series for Pitcher Isaiah “Bugsy” Jensen, who had not pitched much in the Northwest Regional either, but he’d had quite a game on the biggest stage for Little Leaguers. Bugsy pitched four innings with six strikeouts and only two singles. Then, he began to lose control in the fifth as wild pitches walked a hitter from the opposing team: Italy. Joel Jensen, coach for Bend North in Oregon, gave son and pitcher a pep talk that brought him the courage to strike out his next and final hitter. And eventually, his team won the game.

Photo Courtesy www.sportsgrid.com

Photo Courtesy www.sportsgrid.com

I just came out to tell you … I love you, as a dad and a player, okay? You’re doing awesome out here. One more hitter and I’m going to bring in _____ (alternate pitcher). This is your last hitter, okay? You understand? Come right after him… Hey, cheer up, have some fun, come right after him. Okay? Let’s go!

It was a moment not only seen and heard by the crowd of 7,000 at the series, but also by national audiences of ESPN and ABC News. The video serves as a reminder to dads and coaches everywhere: support and validate your children, players, and students. They need it most when they lose faith in themselves–that message may be the push they need to end on a high note.

Unfortunately, ESPN might be seen as Red-Faced after commercializing the touching moment with corporate sponsorship from Kellogg’s. They branded the video as a “Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Let Your Grrrrreat-Out Moment.”

Our disclaimer: No Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes contributed in the making of this moment.

Out of the mouth of babes

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message,” which could not be more true in today’s modern age. The internet and social media have given voice to so many who would be otherwise unheard. Perhaps the most fascinating voices are those that have a better grasp of the new media than its predecessors — those under the age of 18. Watch this impassioned video of 16-year-old environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

Video Courtesy Earth Guardians

Youth speaking out on societal issues is not a new phenomenon, Severn Cullis-Suzuki gave a similarly fervent speech at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. But only with the recent advent of social media have their shots been heard around the world.

Perhaps driven by an innocent naiveté, or perhaps by the honest, blunt nature of youth, but the youngest generation is not afraid to speak on controversial topics and to ask the questions many adults would not. Eleven-year-old Matthew Schricker did so recently when he questioned Mike Pence’s “softening” role in Donald Trump’s campaign:

Video Courtesy MiNews

When surrounded by media mistakes and poorly worded soundbites, it is comforting to hear such candidness, wit and substance from the future leaders of America.