How Not to do Public Relations

July 17, 2006 by

Public relations can be quite the minefield. It’s easy to say something that when quoted on the front page of the newspaper doesn’t look so good.

Like when the chief operating officer of Airbus, John Leahy, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “The wheels are not coming off,” in respond to another delay in building more planes. The poor choice of words earned Leahy the Bimbo Award.

Every month Spaeth Communications offers a new list of bimbos. But more than a good laugh, it’s an opportunity to learn a few PR lessons:

  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Don’t bring up the worst possible fears (like bringing up Chernobyl when talking about a new nuclear plant)
  • Don’t be callous about death.
  • Don’t state the truth in a way that can be misleading.
  • Don’t spin bad news. Bad news is bad news.
  • Don’t insult people (they could be your customers, or in the case of churches, potential visitors)
  • Make a positive statement when you have the opportunity.

From the few interviews I’ve given I will say it’s pretty easy to slip up. The best defense is practice, practice, practice. (link via bloggedy blog)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “How Not to do Public Relations”

  • Scott
    July 17, 2006

    Let the Statue of Liberation do the talking for you! Own one today!

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  • Peter Walker
    July 17, 2006

    Make a positive statement when you have the opportunity.
    That quotation can go a really long way! It’s amazing how many churches are caught up in the “negaholic” mentality of naming what’s WRONG in the world, instead of what’s RIGHT! Especially, what’s right in the KINGDOM!
    Too many pastors, clergy and even lay-leaders preach and teach as if the Body of Christ could FAIL… as if the Kingdom could be stopped… as if Christ’s death and resurrection could be usurped, undermind or waylaid.
    I’m tired of hearing all the things Christians are against. Give me something the Church is FOR and I’ll get behind it… that is, I’ll get behind if it’s good, praiseworthy, right, noble, etc… I’ll get behind a vision of the Kingdom of God. I think a lot of us would.

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  • Andrew
    July 18, 2006

    I love the Bimbo awards. It’s one of the church’s greatest gifts to humanity. (FYI, the Bimbo Awards take their name from Jessica Hahn, the former secretary for Jim Bakker, who famously claimed “I am not a bimbo,” thereby removing any doubt from anyone’s mind that she was, indeed, a bimbo.)

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  • Tim McGhee
    July 20, 2006

    It would be great if CMS would do a lot more about churches and PR.
    A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend who worked on getting conservatives into the media a few years ago. He told me that every church should have a PR person.
    I didn’t understand this at first? Why should the community care if the church is having VBS or a picnic? I wondered.
    Recently it hit me, not only should the church be a part of the community at large with healthy two-way communication in the media (where the public communicates), but it should also be a voice on the moral issues of the day.
    It’s finally getting a little clearer for me as I follow how the media works. Media blogs help, too.
    If the Church in America doesn’t wake up, the Church in America will be wiped out. God will end our sins like abortion and divorce. The question is, will he do it by healing us or be destroying us. His answer to that question will depend on if we decide to pray and ask us to heal us.
    10,637 days

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