Fess Up

July 3, 2009 at 10:49 pm 2 comments

A while back, I posted a bit of whimsy about “The Automated Honor System,” the idea that no one has to be on his/her honor since all truths are revealed (sooner or later) in the Internet age.

People love a good confession (I’ll get to Mark Sanford in a moment) hence my sage PR advice: Fess Up. Confession does not guarantee pardon but it does guard against further bloodletting since stonewalling and half-truths have never been more futile. Some recent examples:

MANNY3Manny Ramirez: The Dodger heavy hitter is back after his 50 game suspension for failing a drug test. He refuses to talk about steroids. According to AP, the substance revealed in his screening was human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a fertility drug reportedly used by steroid users to offset side effects when ending a steroid cycle. Manny’s silence essentially hands out shovels and begs people to dig deeper.

sarah-palin-thumbSarah Palin: Her abrupt resignation as Governor of Alaska has created more questions than answers. Many are speculating this is her attempt to avoid further attacks on her actions and record as a sitting governor, allowing her to concentrate on a 2012 run for the White House. If so, she needs to say it now. Otherwise, she risks being Ross Perot redux, an oddball who sought temporary refuge only to pop up ineffectively at the last minute.

USA/Mark Sanford: Who would have imagined this news cycle, from Governor Sanford being lost on the Appalachian Trial and found in Argentina to Michael Jackson’s death to Sarah Palin’s bombshell. Still, Sanford remains a one-man PR dissertation with no end in sight. Lesson here, tell the truth the first time and stay focused. If people want to hear about love stories and soul mates, they don’t need to tune into a governor’s presser. A Harlequin romance will suffice…and have a happy ending.


Entry filed under: Crisis Communications, Leadership, Public Relations. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jackie  |  July 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, 72, is a politician who has generally been open about his playboy lifestyle. Generally, he’s been embraced by the public there. Not sure how recent scandal will play out, but an example of just being more upfront about one’s actions (more so than in American politics, anyway). He seems like a scoundrel to me, but at least not lying about it!

    • 2. jasonkarpf  |  July 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      Much has been said of Europe’s greater acceptance of politicians’ dalliances, although Berlusconi has pushed it to the limit. As a media tycoon, he shows surprisingly little media tact. You bring up a good point: is he more outrageous or simply more honest?


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