You see, it’s people like Guy Fournier that will keep PR flacks gainfully employed for years to come. Mr. Fournier was the Chairman of CBC who it seems went to the school of “quotable quotes” as taught by Don Rickles and Chris Rock. Problem is, this guy isn’t being paid to be funny or obnoxious, he’s a rambling, cantankerous old man that managed to find a way to make the CBC and himself look bad. So, appalling were his remarks that he voluntarily resigned his position on September 20th.
Just what did he say? Well let’s start with his scholarly musings on bestiality being acceptable in Lebanon so long as it’s with a female animal. Isn’t that charming? Then last May he extolled the virtues and pleasures of defecating. He says, “The most extraordinary thing is that in the end as you grow older, you continue to go poop once a day if you are in good health, while it is not easy to make love every day. So finally, the pleasure is longer lasting and more frequent than the other.” Illuminating comments from the head of our national broadcaster!
Lesson number one … when giving media interviews, there’s a right and a wrong way to do things but when all the chips are down, you really need to just remember one thing:
If you don’t want to see it in print or hear it on the radio -- don’t say it!
Sounds simple, but time and time again, we see the demise great leaders, public figures and political types who fail to stick to the party line, a sanctioned script or a key message track and succumb miserably to their own flippant observations. Inappropriate humor doesn’t work in most public settings so to me, common sense would dictate that such opinions should not be shared with a journalist.
The only two local politicians who managed to hold office despite being bumbling idiots was Mayor of Toronto, Mel Lastman and current City of Toronto Councillor of Etobicoke North, Rob Ford. Look these guys up, they have written the book on bad quotes and dim-witted remarks and still managed to keep their jobs.
Remember Neil French? Talk about a downward spiral! The flamboyant creative guru of WPP ceded his lofty position amid national outrage brought about by brainless comments on why women weren’t well represented in the top creative ranks in ad agencies. In a public forum with media present, French quipped…
"All women in the industry are crap, who inevitably wimp out and go suckle something.”
What both Mr. Fournier and Mr. French failed to recognize is that theirs is not a responsibility to foist their own “personal” views or philosophies. They are part of and often the public face of the larger ecosystem in which they work. Shel Holtz recently noted on his blog that it’s the job of top-ranking executives to communicate effectively with customers, employees and owners to support the big-picture goals of the organization. In this vein, whether you’re a CBC or WPP Group big-wig, you’ll do yourself and the organization you represent a giant favour by uphold the brand and keeping your personal beliefs tightly muzzled.