September 11, 2009

Oh, I thought he said “Nice tie!”

Posted in Current Events, Political Punditry at 10:55 pm by R

Sometimes public relations is simply about how you behave in public.

The Congressman from South Carolina gave us a fine example the other night during President Obama’s health care speech.

Evidently the Congressman blurted out, “You lie!” during the president’s address. But this didn’t go into my brain properly as I watched the clip, I could have sworn Wilson said, “Nice tie!” At least that’s what my brain really wanted him to have said.

No, it didn’t particularly sound like “Nice tie!” the second time I heard it, but I remained baffled and unconvinced that any member of the House would yell out in a formal gathering of the legislature and call any president a liar. Turns out that’s what actually happened. I guess he didn’t get his copy of Robert’s Rules of Order…

Regardless of your opinion about the statements that prompted Rep. Wilson’s outburst, you have to admit that it wasn’t delivered with much class. It was bad a personal PR tactic.

Particularly for public figures — such as politicians at ALL levels of government — it’s critical to remember you are always on and someone is probably watching or listening.

In media training, I remind my clients that from the moment they are hooked up to a microphone they are to behave as though everything they say/do is on the record, even if they are waiting in the green room to be brought out to do their interview. Similarly, once you are elected to a public office…everything’s on the record. (As long as we’re addressing this… Mike Duvall.  I couldn’t have created a better example to clearly illustrate both of the above counts! I digress.)

In general, there’s simply something to be said for proper decorum. It is a guide-post for civility and a good way to brand yourself as a socially acceptable individual in darn near every situation. I for one was raised on the “Sir and Ma’am Method.” (That’s what happens when your parents are both veterans.) And in darn near every situation Sir or Ma’am has worked in my favor.

Those guide posts for acceptable behavior are all the more important when you’re a public figure or in front of the media (like the entire House and Senate were) not because you’ll be praised for being couth, but because you’ll be raked over the coals if you aren’t.

I suppose in the world of political spin, Mr. Wilson now has a “You Lie!” soap box to stand on and pontificate about certain health care reforms. But, in the world of returns on investment…Rob Miller, Rep. Wilson’s opponent in the upcoming 2010 election, has added more than one million dollars to his campaign coffers since 9/9/09. Meanwhile, Wilson himself is about $300K behind that seven digit figure.

Politics and PR aside, I did think the president’s tie was rather nice. Apparently it’s lucky too.

~R

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