|Rep Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)|
While the nature of the content of these emails remains unknown, the notion of letting one reporter in on another’s plans or interests remains a major no-no in PR-dom. I mean how many times have you had to advise a client to NOT share specifics of his or her interactions with another news organization?
Conversely, it’s likely a bigger no-no to book your client on NBC “Today” without advising the booker that the client just pre-taped a segment on ABC’s GMA. This lack of disclosure will effectively end whatever relationship you’ve built with Today, and likely GMA too. So how can a mild-mannered publicist ensure that he’s not biting off the media hand that feeds him?
A good rule of thumb is to inform your editorial contact that she’s not alone in securing an interview with your client, BUT with several caveats:
- Only reveal that other interviews were conducted…IF ASKED. Do not volunteer as a conversation-starter the fact that your client just conducted a round of interviews. Maybe the reporter doesn’t care or believes your client is so newsworthy, it doesn’t really matter that he/she has done other interviews. Think Charlie Sheen.
- When and if you are asked about other interviews, be forthcoming, but DO NOT reveal BY NAME the other media outlets with which your client has met. If pressed, simply say that your client is meeting with another “newsweekly” or “network morning show.” If pressed harder for a name, ask the inquisitive editor, reporter, booker or producer whether she would like you to share the name of her news org with the others. That should end the conversation.
- Finally, never ever characterize one outlet to another as being more important or influential. This is another excellent way to terminate a once-fruitful relationship. No reporter wants to be told that his employer is lower in the media pecking order (even though deep down he may know it). All outlets should be given equitable treatment, though not necessarily equitable access.
Anyway, back to Darrell Issa’s press rep. It’s unclear that this numbnut faced any of the scenarios outlined above. In fact, it appears that the firing was more political than anything else, i.e., Speaker Boehner learned that the press rep may have been assisting The Times reporter with some backgrounding on a forthcoming book and weighed in. (No love lost between Boehner and The Times.)
As for Charlie Sheen, I was glad to see Hollywood PR man Stan Rosenfeld resign the account. I worked with Stan back in my nascent days in the biz as an entertainment publicist. He was a pro then, and is certainly one now for distancing himself from the Charlie Sheen Bi-Polar Histrionics Media Tour.