Good PR Skills, Common Sense, Clearly Lackey-ing
I routinely get inquiries from friends and acquaintances as to what PR is all about and what the secrets to being viewed positively in the press truly are. While I normally preface my remarks with my standard “PR is more of an art than a science” line, I find that the explanation is often pretty simple. Good PR stems from applying common sense to interactions with the media.
This brings us to John Lackey, starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. In case you missed it, and judging by the fact that the only thing declining faster than the play on the field is the ratings, there is a good chance you did. After his most recent performance on the mound, a solid outing actually, Mr. Lackey chose not to celebrate the victory, but to berate the local members of the media for a pre-game text he received from TMZ (a west coast based media outlet) inquiring into a personal matter.
While I actually agree with him that media inquiring into his personal relationships is over the line, he needed to recognize that the media gathered before him had no involvement in that situation and has actually been more than fair with him given his and the team's recent struggles. The greater point being that here was an opportunity after an important win to earn some much needed “good PR,” but Lackey instead blew the chance faster than a 2-0 lead.
Compare Lackey’s performance with the media to Tom Brady or Derek Jeter. No matter the situation, big win or tough loss, they always seem to say the right thing. Even in the rare times they don’t (see Tom’s off color drinking remarks) they are quickly forgotten thanks to the credibility they have built over the years.
In the case of Brady, he is considered so perfect by the media that ESPN the Magazine wrote a story this week questioning whether he was still loved by the Boston fan because he was, well, too perfect.
Now we can’t expect all of our public figures to be comfortable and eloquent in front of the camera. For every Derek Jeter there is an Alex Rodriguez, but is it too much to ask to put your best foot forward when the cameras are rolling? Everyone recognizes, even the media, that people have personal issues to deal with, can be frustrated with their performance or can just be having a bad day. But the key as a public figure is to build up some good will with the media so that they’ll give you a pass now and again when you aren’t on top of your game.
For Mr. Lackey I might suggest beginning with a public apology to the media he dressed down the other day. It may not make up for all of his poor choices and antics since being in this market, but it would go a long way in repairing some pretty fractured media relationships.
What advice would you give John Lackey if you were his PR Rep?