Tracey Mendrek, Executive Vice President
One of the interesting parts of a job in public relations is the Monday morning opportunity to quarterback statements made to the press. This past week provided plenty of material for what to do and not do when responding to media inquiries. So here is my week in review.
First is an example of how not to respond to the media. On Thursday the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board weighed in on the $670,000 of taxpayer’s money being shelled out for six custom-made, copper-clad doors as part of a larger $50 million renovation at the State Capitol. The architect fired back with some pointed remarks that were defensive and no doubt written after coming under attack while emotions were running high. It may have served him better to take the high road with a less emotional message of historic preservation and restoring the Capitol to its architectural grandeur. This approach would have made the storm less about the architect defending his work and more about appealing to Illinoisans about their civic duty to help preserve the State Capitol.
Alternatively, United Airlines successfully neutralized a potential headline-grabbing event that happened when a computer glitch allowed many travelers to book flights for free, after paying a small service fee. The company, without disclosing how much money they lost, agreed to honor the fares. This savvy response took the story out of the news and rewarded shoppers who purchased their tickets online with fingers crossed. The cherry on top of the airline’s positive media reaction was that a military family was one of many who benefited from the mistake.
Finally, Tiger Woods made the news again in the aftermath following a rules infraction that left him two shots further off the lead at the BMW Championship. Suffice it to say that no one advises Mr. Woods on media relations. He is his own brand and ultimately makes the final decisions. Golf is the only sport that calls for the player to self-police rules infractions, but with television coverage and cell phone video, players are often penalized after the fact when video is reviewed. It is fair to say that perhaps Mr. Woods did not see the infraction and upon further review of the video still felt a penalty was unwarranted. Unfortunately, instead of accepting the ruling and moving on, he has extended the life of the story by continuing to question its validity.