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  • 5 Top Posts from 15-Seconds In 2014

    We’ve had bigger years at the 15-Seconds Blog in terms of numbers of blog posts.  But the good news is that the shortage of blog items means we were busy helping clients with their media training and crisis communications needs.
    Nonetheless, there were quiet a few blog posts in 2014 which we think illustrate some important teaching points when dealing with the media.
    Here are five of our favorites:

    #5 – GM Recall – Barra Bars Broadcast Media

    General Motors swerved all over the PR highway in their attempts to deal with a massive safety recall.  One of their worst turns was when they held a news conference at GM HQ and excluded the broadcast media. Apparently they thought they would get a better shake if they steered clear of the TV types.  All the achieved was driving the broadcast outlets to work harder to dig up dirt.  They didn’t have to work that hard.

    GM crash



    Lesson:  Don’t pick fights with the media.



    #4 – A Crisis In Your Crisis Communications

    The White House demonstrated how not to handle a breaking news situation.  When reports came out that Russian militants may have downed a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in July the Administration was slow to respond.  They stuck too long with their script (the President was making a speech about roads and infrastructure in Delaware). When the President did make remarks a couple hours later he had little to say about the crash. The State Department spokesperson led off her briefing with a statement on Afghan voting rights.




    Lesson: When a crisis strikes – say something substantive — fast.

    #3 – You Don’t Know Bow – 5 Steps to a PR Debacle

    When U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl , a prisoner of the Taliban for many years, was swapped for five prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the Administration botched the handoff.  They must have known that Bergdahl was a suspected deserter — and yet they created photo ops with the released soldier’s parents that painted him as a returning hero.

    Then they allowed top officials to go out and declare Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction.”


    Obama Bergdahls



    Lesson:  Don’t spin things as the way you would like them to be.  Face reality and don’t sugar-coat a story with a lot of negatives in it.




    #2 –  Ray Rice Fumbles Media Appearance

    Admittedly, the NFL probably did a worse communications job handling the Ray Rice domestic abuse issue than Rice did himself — but it was a close race.  In this post we reacted to the cringe-worthy press conference Rice and his wife held to try to make Rice’s unnecessary roughness in an elevator go away.



    Lesson: When holding an apology press conference don’t make the victim take part



    #1 –  Sterling – Silver Slam Dunk

    And to end this list on a positive note — we positively loved the job NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did at a press conference dealing with the racist remarks of LA Clipper owner Donald Sterling.  Silver gave a text book example of how to grab control at a press conference, answer what you want to answer, keep your answers short, and don’t let the lawyers or anyone talk you into weasel-worded answers which might make life easier in court but cause you to lose in a rout in the court of public opinion.



    Lesson:  Be aggressive, take charge, don’t ramble on and show the media and the world that you mean what you say.


    Those are some of our favorites from 2014.  We look forward to adding more in the coming year.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from Bill & Fred