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  • Broken Bonds of Livestrong

    Half measures rarely work in sports or apologies. The media are reporting that Nike is cutting ties with Livestrong, the cancer-fighting foundation started by Lance Armstrong.
    Armstrong himself broke away from Livestrong months ago in hopes of minimizing the blow back  the charity received from news that the bicyclist finally admitted the long-rumored story that he had used performance enhancing drugs.
    The New York Times today reminds us that Nike stood by Tiger Woods after his reputation had a collision with a fire hydrant – and it initiate a new endorsement deal with Michael Vick after the quarterback got out of prison where he did time because of his role in dog fighting ring. But Nike is abandoning the Foundation built on Armstrong’s reputation.

    What’s the difference?  One can’t help but wonder if Armstrong had manned up at the outset of this and showed true remorse if things would have gone differently.  The foundation tried to put some creative spin on the decision but it is too little and too late.

    Armstrong’s half-hearted apologies sent him on a downhill run from which he could not brake.
    He had one chance to get on the right course once the truth came out.  He blew it.

    We teach our clients — when you screw up apologize swiftly and as contritely as possible if you hope to weather the storm.  Armstrong’s failure to do so not only brought him down — but also may have crashed the hopes and dreams of his very admirable foundation.

  • Only the Best Should Attempt Full Ginsburgs

    In Washington-speak, a “full Ginsburg” is when one person appears on all five major Sunday news programs in a single day.  The feat was first performed in 1998 by William Ginsburg , the attorney for Monica Lewinsky.  Since then, the trick has been performed about 18 times — often by Presidential candidates.

    If you are not running for office –and you are doing a Ginsburg, chances are you are running for your life. Even if one or two of the interviews is pre-taped, it is hard on a person to keep their energy up and their talking points down.

    White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer logged a full Ginsburg this morning.  We’ll leave to others to rate the substance of his answers — but the way they were delivered was not impressive.

    By far his worst performance was the single show on which he did “a remote” – rather than being on set looking into the eyes of his questioner. His appearance on ABC’s This Week, which at times gives the appearance of a hostage video, is below:


     Media Training 101 is to have the interviewee know where to look into the camera. Pfeiffer’s shifting eyes match the demeanor of his answers.  And he had a habit of talking way too fast (trying to get it over with?) stepping on his words and phrases and THEN looking off camera to the monitor. He also stumbled badly with one of his answers to George Stephanopoulos where he said “the law is irrelevant” in the IRS matter.  Bet he wishes he had that sound bite back.

    His in-studio performances were not so hot either. His answers earned him the worse dressing down we have seen in many years from veteran Bob Schieffer.  The CBS Face the Nation stalwart’s asked:  “why are you here?” Not exactly what an interviewee is hoping to hear.

    Pfeiffer needs a lot more practice doing remote interviews — and more importantly — the White House ought to re-consider the wisdom of sending out a single spokesperson and asking him or her to perform in the five-ring circus that the full Ginsburg creates.  It didn’t work out too well for UN Ambassador Susan Rice either.

    h/t Joe Quimby