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.

 

Be Ready

“Be ready,” is the lesson marketing executives must now take, according to a recent New York Times article, “Planning for Unexpected Criticism by Trump.” Crisis consultant Andrew D. Gilman, who has counseled such brands as Johnson & Johnson, General Motors and Pepsi during crises advises “prepare for Mr. Trump as you would for a natural disaster — an event that is highly unpredictable but poses a big risk if it happens.”

Photo Courtesy of: bceforensics.com

Photo Courtesy of: BCEforensics.com

Mr. Trump’s trigger-finger tweeting is prompting some brands to preemptively draft informal contingency plans, and others, like H&R Block, to spend money shoring up their reputations. One contingency is to line up a third-party spokesman who can help if the brand’s image is dinged. That is essentially what H&R Block did in signing Jon Hamm, the “Mad Men” star and an H&R Block customer for years.

“The fit between H&R Block and myself,”  Mr. Hamm commented, “seemed copacetic and natural. And the tone of the creative was clever and outside the box for something as humdrum as taxes.” Even before the election, Mr. Trump offered to “put H&R Block out of business” with his plan for a simplified tax code.

And what if your company is trampled?

Scott Farrell, a specialist in corporate branding and the president of Golin Global Corporate Communications, said “The only thing that applies, no matter what the issue, is speed. Slow kills companies fast in a Twitter conversation.”

Vanity Fair’s swift response after Mr. Trump reacted to a negative review of a restaurant in one of his buildings by saying the magazine was “dead” could be an example for others to follow. Mr. Farrell explained, “its message — including banner ads on its website calling itself “The Magazine Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Read” and asking for subscriptions — captured the magazine’s voice and identity. More than 40,000 people signed up for new subscriptions.”

“If you’re a CMO, Mr. Gilman, concluded, “you need to put another filter on your plans. Normally, you’d never have to worry about a president singling out your company. Now you do.” Amen.

 

 

The Accidental Archivist

In contributing to the February issue of Vanity Fair with an article entitled, “The Accidental Activist” commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, New York investigative journalist Joshua Prager found among Jane Roe/Norma Mc Corvey’s abandoned documents:

a card from the Los Angeles media training firm Ready for Media with a typed list of pointers. (“Say Versus rather than ‘V.’ ” “ ‘Abortion’ instead of ‘It.’ ” “If you’re asked a three-part question, answer the one you like best.”) from whom Gloria Allred had arranged for McCorvey to get lessons in public speaking.

Decades later, we still consider our job as media consultants to help clients clearly, concisely and effectively communicate their own points of view.