I have commented here several times and from the beginning that the supposedly “fake” news conference FEMA conducted in October was not what was being told in the press. That it was more about politics, the politicization of government agencies, about media infotainment than many seasoned PR professionals believed. It strikes me as ironic that we who know you can’t believe what you read in the press are among the quickest to believe when it conforms to a predisposition–in this case the predisposition being that FEMA is a bad, incompetent evil agency and anyone associated with it is too.
At any rate, read (or hear ) for yourself what happened at this news conference from the fall guy himself–Pat Philbin, courtesy of this interview with Kami Huyse.
The audio feed is courtesy of Shel Holtz’s For Immediate Release.
Floyd Landis obviously didn’t learn or forgot a lesson most children learn very early. Once you start lying telling the truth gets harder and harder. I just heard on CBC radio (I live near Canada) that Landis admits that his previous explanations were bogus. He said that the whiskey explanation was someone else’s idea and the dehydration suggestion was provided by a Spanish attorney. Oh boy. He just admitted to telling two lies. Does he think blaming someone else for coming up with these ideas is going to somehow protect his credibility. It obviously does not. It shows that he is willing to take any bonehead suggestion from just about anyone and immediately grab on and see if anyone will believe it. He also admits in this that he is consulting attorneys and listening to them about what to say. That doesn’t do much for credibility either. Does he think the detail about it being a Spanish attorney is going to make us say, “Oh yeah, well is was a Spanish attorney, so no wonder it’s not true.”
I hope that Mr Landis is currently not getting any advice from a crisis manager in this case, because if he is it isn’t going to do our little profession any good.
I will repeat what I told Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel in an interview about this: We don’t like cheaters. If Landis cheated admit it, say you’re sorry, and get actively involved in helping protect the sport from cheaters like you. If he didn’t cheat, he had better find a rationale explanation in a hurry, find someone to switch the black hat to, and communicate, communicate, communicate because the world has already tried this case and judged him guilty. (Well, I have anyway.)
I have counseled clients that there is connection between blogs and MSM (mainstream media). This is true for those organizations facing a lot of negative chatter around the “global watercooler.” (By the way, that’s my not technical term for the blogosphere, which sounds kind of clunky and non-descriptive to me.) But it is also true for more positive media attention. Case in point is my interview in 45 minutes as I write this with a sports reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. The question is crisis management for celebrity athletes in trouble such as Justin Gatlin and Floyd Landis. How did this reporter find me to ask a question? Through this blog of course. And if and when this blog becomes a watercooler around which people gather to talk about crisis management, reputation crises, news media coverage, stakeholder engagement and all those issues that interest me, the MSM will not only come to ask my view, but they will come here to see what others are saying about these topics. So join in the conversation folks. The watercooler is getting livelier!
Personally I’m hoping that Landis and the Tour de France comes through this latest drug question in great shape. I’m pulling for almost any sport that provides an alternative to the big professional ones with their outrageous ticket prices. But so far, the crisis communications is pretty disappointing. Landis was on my local TV news last night. The anchor introduced his comments to another reporter by saying that Landis denied drug use but, she said, listen carefully and judge for yourself. Well, with that introduction she decided not to let us judge for ourselves. She made it clear with her words and her knowing smile what she thought of Landis’ answer.
Not that she was wrong. When asked directly if he had ever doped up he said something vague about it being an issue in the sport and then said “I’m going to say ‘no” to that.” Well, if you are going to deny something, for goodness sake deny it. Half hearted denials don’t go very far. Of course, if you did it, keep your mouth shut, stay away from the microphones, or come up with a much better key message dodge than that. Best thing is to stay away.
I see he has a news conference scheduled today. I’ll be eager to see if he does a better job of denying it or, if he did use illegal substances, I hope for the sake of the sport he admits, apologizes, commits to help clean up the sport, and graciously congratulate the real winner. Hmmm, I doubt it.