PR in the digital age

In this digital age in which we live, organizations, corporations and public figures have to be extra, extra careful what they say.  The wrong statement or the right statement said the wrong way, will undoubtedly result in immediate Twitter backlash and instant apologies.

Actor Mario Lopez learned this the hard way when he appeared on the Candace Owens podcast.  She is a right wing commentator and their interview led to a discussion of genders and how some in Hollywood said they will allow their children to choose their sex.  Lopez disagreed, much to Owens’ delight.

Before the microphones could be turned off, Twitter erupted. He was skewered for his comments and many called for E Networks to fire him.  His publicist came out with a statement that Lopez’s remarks were ignorant and insensitive.  Within hours Lopez apologized and promised to educate himself about gender issues.  He didn’t want to lose his career over some ill-thought out comments.

What’s the lesson we can learn from this episode, and countless others that are similar?  Is it that nobody can give their true feelings in the media?  Are opinions other than what media agree with career-changing?  Kathy Griffin is still feeling the effects of her Trump stunt, two years later.  And she is on the left.

From a communications perspective, or a crisis communications perspective, the lesson is not what you say, but how you say it.  Can anyone in Hollywood have a right of center opinion?  Perhaps.  But beware how it comes out.

Instead of Lopez’s publicist throwing his client under the bus, perhaps someone should remind the publicist that it’s his job to properly prepare clients for interviews. 

First, if you’re going on a very right of center show, know that.  Same if you’re being interviewed by a left wing reporter.  Know what areas the interviewer will want to get into and be prepared with appropriate responses.  Do some prep work, publicist.  There is no reason a public figure or a representative of an organization can have an opinion.  But when discussing sensitive, political views, be prepared in how you express your views.  If you are going to remove all filters and just let it go, then be prepared for the public to react.

I don’t know the Lopez story about this interview and why he did it.  Perhaps Owens knew she would have an ally.  She was right.  So she did her job to get her views across.

Lopez didn’t do his job in speaking his mind without thinking it through.  Yes, sometimes whatever you say will be the wrong thing or said the wrong way.  So maybe do a pass on the show.  If you can live with the consequences, then go for it.  If you want to keep working in your chosen industry, give the media some thought before the mic is turned on.