Touchy Touchy!

I can certainly appreciate a “hands-on” PR approach, but this is ridiculous! This one comes from San Francisco, where a residential hospital was accused of misusing it’s “patient gift fund”. A local TV reporter went in to investigate, and encountered a PR rep whose media relations tactics fell somewhere between bizarre, and downright creepy.

Where Do I Begin?

PR Director Marc Slavin’s repeated touching of this reporter wasn’t just a ludicrous PR move, it was also battery. Remember, this reporter was attending a public town hall event, and had just as much right to be there as the rest of the audience. What, exactly, did Slavin hope to accomplish by repeatedly provoking the journalist? Did he think he would just annoy him so much that he would leave? (for the final edited news story, click here)

The Greatest Gift

The nicest thing you can do for an investigative reporter is to give him an even bigger story than he thought he had in the first place. Bizarre, theatrical antics certainly qualify. This reporter’s story was so much more sensational thanks to the spectacle provided by the very person who was supposed to be protecting his employer’s best interests. Slavin is lucky to still have his job, not to mention all of his teeth.

It Didn’t Have to Happen

Unfortunately, some journalists today use the ambush interview as a first resort. But the ones with integrity still try more traditional avenues first. Why wouldn’t anyone from this hospital simply sit down with the reporter to address these very serious allegations? The hospital spokesperson would have had plenty of time to prepare for the interview, and the reporter might not have felt the need to show up unannounced. Anyone who believes that stonewalling a journalist will make a story go away, is certainly setting the stage for a Media Disaster.

Mark Bernheimer

Mark Bernheimer is a former CNN correspondent and the founder of MediaWorks Resource Group, an internationally renowned media training and consulting firm.