What to say; what not to say

Jeff Morosoff, Assistant Professor, Hofstra University

Two prominent New Yorkers became a public relations case study in recent days of what to say and what not say when you’re in the public eye. 

With the Mets still playing less-than-stellar baseball and the crowds at Citifield shrinking, team owner Fred Wilpon bad-mouthed several of his players in a New Yorker magazine interview and later told Sports Illustrated readers that his team was “bleeding money.”  These, PR people, are examples of what not to say when you’re trying to motivate your team and your dwindling fan base.

When a questionable photo showed up on a young Seattle woman’s Twitter account–sent to her from Congressman Weiner–he told the media it was a prank, later said he was unsure of whether the photo was indeed him in his underwear, yelled defensively at a reporter, and has not stopped talking about the tweet since.  Instead, he could have said that he has asked for an investigation of the alleged hacking of his Twitter account, or he should come clean about the origin and the intension of the photo and suffer the consequences.

Time and time again we have seen difficult situations go from bad to worse because the person in charge doesn’t know what or what not to say.  In Mr. Weiner’s case, he should know that the truth will eventually surface and it’ll be to his advantage to take the lead on telling it.  For Mr. Wilpon, I would offer the same advice my mother always gave me: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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