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Friday, June 25, 2010

Cluelessness seems to be a global epidemic

What do BP, the French national soccer team and General Stanley McChrystal have in common? Answer -- an almost unbelievable lack of awareness about the power of the press. To sum up this week's blunders:
  • a General was fired, or should I say resigned after he and his aides were quoted talking smack about their colleagues and higher-ups in the chain of command;
  • the French Minister for Sports said the national soccer team, "tarnished the image of France" following their their first-round exit from the World Cup. During the tournament the media reported on much more than their poor play -- Nicolas Anelka, the striker, made headlines by cussing out the coach. He was kicked off the team which was followed by his teammates boycotting practice and the team captain almost coming to blows with a trainer -- all while the cameras were rolling.
  • BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, went sailing while his company's offshore well continued to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Cluelessness seems to be a global phenomenon with an American General, a French soccer team and a British CEO all providing fodder for the news media. Haven't any of these folks had any media training? It certainly wouldn't seem so. If General McChrystal had, he would have known that his comments would wind up in print. If the French team had, they would have known that letting intra-team disputes become public they would all look like spoiled brats. If Tony Hayward had, he would have known that going off sailing during his company's biggest ever crisis was not a savvy PR move. When the rich and powerful do unbelievably stupid things, it makes us mad. And, with social media we can easily share the stories that made us mad and soon, the story is everywhere. This often results in action being taken -- a general resigning, sponsors abandoning French football players and a CEO... well I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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