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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Shielding Yourself from the Gaffe Virus


    There is an outbreak of a terrible virus here in America.   No not that one.  We mean “JBD” – “Joe Biden Disease.”

    The symptoms are when a prominent figure blurts out comments in public demonstrating that they have not given a moment’s thought to how their statement will sound to others.

    Among the latest to be infected was Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft who was speaking at an event celebrating women in computing and was asked his advice for women who are uncomfortable asking for a raise.

    It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Mr. Nadella said.  “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women (who) don’t ask for a raise have,” he said. “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

    Not long after Nadella tweeted out a correction — if not an apology:

    Pay equality between the sexes is important — and it appears gaffe equality is too.

    Last night actress Gwyneth Paltrow  was speaking at a  Democratic National Committee fund raiser. Reportedly, while introducing President Obama she said that equal pay is very important to her “as a working mother.”  According to Forbes, she pulls in a mere $19 million annually. Nice work if you can get it.

    Our view is that an interview — or a speech — is no time for original thought.  Folks like Biden, Nadella, and Paltrow ought to prepare specific talking points — and then have someone not beholden to them (and preferably an average Joe – but not Joe Biden) review the the talking points to ensure there are no guffaw producing gaffes in them.

    Your own staff may be too close to you to be willing to tell you you sound like a jerk. Once the talking points are vetted, the prominent person needs to be convinced to stick to the script. Hard to do with folks enamored with their own brilliance — but a worthy effort to maintain the health of their image.

  • Pro Tip: Be Careful Who You Let Give Interviews About You

    Your friends and relatives mean well.  Most likely. But they aren’t always the best choices to give media interviews about you.  Case in point: Joe Flacco.

    The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is much in the news these days because of some football game he is scheduled to play in New Orleans on Sunday.

    The New York Times carried an article about Flacco this weekend the main theme of which appears to be that Joe is not a flashy guy.  His dad, Steve Flacco, apparently got carried away with the message.

     “Joe is dull.”

    “Joe is dull,” the senior Flacco is quoted as saying.  Just to make sure the reporter got the point, he elaborated. “As dull as he is portrayed in the media, he’s that dull.  He is dull.”

    Thanks, dad.

    We understand why an athlete might want to cultivate the image of “Joe Cool.” But “Joe Dull”?  Not so much.

    It is not just his Pop letting air out of Flacco’s balloon. The quarterback is set to be a free agent after the Super Bowl.  His agent, Joe Linta, is quoted saying: “I’ve never seen a guy less concerned about a contract.”  Not a good bargaining position, Joe (Linta.)  A better talking point might have been:  “I’ve never seen a guy more quietly confident in the future.”

    Note for sports stars:  the 15-Seconds team is available to provide media training for your relatives and agents — as well as you. 😉

  • “Dead Tree Media” Not Dead Yet

    We teach people how to get the most out of TV and print media interviews.  Sometimes folks ask: “Hey, isn’t that stuff kind of old fashioned?”

    There is no denying that blogs and social media are all the rage and hugely important.  But a just released study validates why we think it is essential for people who want to communicate to know how to make the most of television and print (aka: “dead tree media.”)

    According to the Pew Research Center:

    More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four — the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post accounted for fully 80% of all links.

    You definitely want to utilize blogs to help you get your message out.  But where are the blogs getting their information from?

    From some tried and true methods.