For a good while the pooh-bahs of public relations wanted to “re-brand” the field as “reputation management.” Remember that? Sometimes the folks in PR remind me of Michael Jackson — so uncomfortable with who they are that they’re compelled to remake themselves.
A waste of energy if you ask me. Look what it did for Michael!
Anyway, today I’m thinking about reputation MISmanagement, and three cases of it I witnessed this past week. All three involve people and organizations I once respected.
Senator John McCain
Always liked this guy. War hero and quintessential straight shooter, and not afraid to buck the party line. But that was before McCain decided to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. To do that, he had to jettison his integrity and make mad, passionate love to the Religious Right. It hasn’t been pretty.
We all heard about McCain’s speech at Liberty University and his embracing of the Falwellian Republic. But that’s only one of many McCain inconsistencies you’ll learn about in Robert Greenwald’s The Real McCain. If you had any thoughts of supporting this guy — and I did — please watch it. The message to every candidate should clear: Be consistent with your message and straight with the voters, or guys like Greenwald will expose your hypocrisy.
I learned of Greenwald’s video on Jeff Jarvis. If the story interests you, be sure to check his take on it. Yeah, it was six days ago, but I’ve been busy.
Case Two: NASCAR
A few years back, a former student dragged me to a NASCAR race at Charlotte. For a while I got hooked on this show that features squeaky clean good old boys who always thank God, their sponsors and their fans after every race. NASCAR may the best marketing case study in the sports/entertainment field — ever. At least until this week.
The cheating scandal in Daytona involved 6 drivers and some of the biggest names in the business. Drivers made the requisite apologies, and NASCAR officials doled out hefty fines. But last I checked, all the cheaters will be on the track in Daytona on Sunday. It calls into question NASCAR’s commitment to fair play, but my guess is they won’t lose one fan in the process. This base is seriously committed.
What can you say about retired NBA star Tim Hardaway aside from the fact that he hates gay people. I mean, it’s a free country, right? To get the full impact, you need to see the full statement Hardaway made on a radio show in Miami.
You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.
I’m trying to imagine how quickly Kent State would revoke my tenure and throw me in the street for that kind of statement. And I’m trying to imagine anyone making a similar statement about, say, black people. Yeah, Hardaway’s entitled to his opinion. But so are all the folks who won’t be engaging his services for a very long time. Another reputation down the crapper.
Hey, maybe he can do a commercial for Snickers!
Update: So that last remark isn’t misunderstood, here’s my take on the Snickers TV spot, posted last week.