It’s Media Relations 101:
- When telling a reporter something confidential, make sure he/she agrees it’s “off the record.”
- There’s no such thing as “off the record.”
Last week, referencing new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, I expressed my concern that since PR people don’t need official credentials to practice, anyone can call themselves a PR practitioner. It didn’t take long for “Mooch” to prove my point: PR isn’t a job for just anyone; you need education and experience to do it, especially in such a high level, ultra-visible position.
So let’s call this public relations case study, “The Case of the Paranoiac.”
Just a few days after being hired, Scaramucci gave an interview to Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker in which he insulted now former Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, using language unfit to print almost anywhere. “Reince is a f-ing paranoid schizophrenic, a ‘paranoiac’,” he said, which was among several profanity-laced taunts he verbalized to Lizza. The media, Democrats, Republicans, and countless others roundly criticized “Mooch’s” expletives as unprofessional and shameful while some excused his “lack of experience.” Scaramucci responded to the criticism by tweeting, “I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump‘s agenda.” He also accused Rizza of betraying him, tweeting, “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won’t happen again.”
In The Practice of Public Relations, Fraser Seitel wrote: “A reporter is never ‘off duty.’ Anything you say to a journalist is fair game to be reported. Never let down your guard, no matter how friendly you are.” He added, “A person who doesn’t want to see something in print shouldn’t say it. It’s that simple.”
And according to freedictionary.com, “Paranoia is a mental illness in which a person has fixed and unreasonable ideas that…other people are being unfair or unfriendly to him.” Perhaps Anthony Scaramucci needs to check his own mirror. He also needs to buy Seitel’s textbook and soap to wash out his potty mouth. Your thoughts?