The saga of Ozzie Guillén, suspended manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, illustrates almost in terms of caricature the importance of keeping a tight focus on your PR objectives. In Guillén's case the aim was to extend the Marlin's promising start against the Philadelphia Phillies. Instead, he's a mere fan for five games for expressing endearing words toward Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in Time magazine. Balk! Indeed.
Guillén apologized contritely at a suspension press conference; he got that part right. But why is a baseball manager in a city with tens of thousands of Cuban refugees — the Marlins actually chose to build their new baseball park among them — making endearing remarks about Fidel Castro? Maybe he got confused in translation, maybe not. The issue should simply never have arisen. If Guillén had been keeping a tight focus on what he was doing, it wouldn't have.
Baseball is a game of strategy; so is PR. Actually, PR isn't a game, it's a responsibly serious profession. Strategy in terms of expressing an honest, straightforward message and sticking with it should be uppermost. Be aware of illusionary influences, but don't let them sway you.
Tor Constantino, a Washington, DC, area PR guy and former journalist posting on Technorati, makes five fairly obvious recommendations to avoid wild pitching, by Ozzie Guilén or any person or firm in the public eye: Don't offer opinions, refuse (gracefully) to answer non-baseball (off-topic) questions, take sensitivity (or communications) training, engage proactively with and contribute appropriately to the community (ies) you want to be engaged with. These are pretty obvious strictures, but emotional flamboyance can override your aims. Don't ever let it. Wild pitches can blow a game, or a career.
Sure we wrote in our last post about the importance of being candid. But it should be candor within appropriate bounds, always on a responsible message. Even when two languages are in play.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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