Roger Protests too much, the press declares
Roger, Roger, Roger. Why didn't you take the sage advice I'm sure your agent and PR people have been giving you and just zip it? Sometimes the best counsel us PR types can offer our clients is to protect them from themselves. Example? Stopping the indignant CEO from wanting to respond to a "he said/he said" kind of issue that emerged in the press. If we let them vent publicly, the press eats it up and the story lives yet another day. And who knows what other great juicy tidbits they may drop along the way that will fan the flames even further.
I'll admit my bias right up front. I'm a Red Sox fan and Roger is not loved by Red Sox Nation. So I must admit I enjoyed reading the headlines this morning, such as this one in the San Jose Mercury News. "Clemens, Unlike Bonds, Steps Forward and Trips over his Ego." Classic. As a PR person, I also really related to the MSNBC column about Roger's failed attempt at damage control.
If Roger Clemens’ aim was damage control in his truculent and self-pitying appearance before a Congressional subcommittee on Wednesday, he failed badly. And for all the pious asides to due process and innocent-until-proven-guilty, it’s impossible to see a way that he can bluster his way out of the fix he’s in.
It's a case study in crisis communications. First of all, you have to determine the facts and I'm not sure Roger truly has revealed -- and proved -- the facts of the matter to anyone, including himself. Then you determine what is the right course of action to deal with the situation. If there is blame on your side, you determine the best way -- and best person -- to stand up and admit it. Explain it and describe how you are making amends or dealing with it so you can move on. And then you try your best to put the story to bed by not dribbling out any other comments for follow-on stories. If you are being falsely accused, the onus is on you to prove that fact so your communications pros can help you take your case to the appropriate people -- again, with the appropriate spokesperson -- to quickly and decisively end the speculation and clear the record.
Roger Clemens is (or at least was) a great pitcher. A good spokesperson he is not. Nor is he a cool head in a crisis. The MSNBC columnist comments that he seems to think that his primary view of this situation is that he is Roger Clemens and therefore should not be treated this way. Tell it to the judge, Roger. It will not help you in the court of public opinion.