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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

SSSSSSSnakes in the Grass..

All practioners of Public Relations would do well to follow the McChrystal episode in American politics closely. One of America's well known Generals, the top military man in Afghanistan, he made the singular error of loosening his mouth around when a journalist was around. Thinking that whatever he said was "off the record", he and his entourage carelessly badmouthed everybody in the Obama administration, in the presence of a journalist from "Rolling Stone", who hung around with them for a week, sharing their drinks, eating their food, and eavesdropping on everything they said in their private moments. The journalist went back, and wrote a profile on Gen McChrystal, titled "The Runaway General". The article added up bits and pieces of whatever the hapless General said to his underlings, and put out a picture of military disrespect and insolence for civilian authority.  When the article got published, not surprisingly, Obama sacked the General. The magazine claimed that the General knew that everything he said was on the record. They further claimed that they had sent the article to the General before they published it. What they actually did was send an innocuous little questionnaire, called a fact-checker, which did not even reveal the countours of the devastating article....
Funnily enough, the General actually had a "Media Advisor", who had invited the journalist to spend a week with them...
Moral of the story? Never trust the press to actually put out the story you want them to put out. They are there to make their living by spitting on you.  Never, never let your guard down.
As we know, there is no corporate tycoon or a politician out there without his little "Media Advisor", who would  be able to string together two decent sentences, or sniff a PR disaster, even when it stares him in the face....

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