In college, I took a couple of Public Relations classes because I thought putting spin on the truth was interesting. After two semesters of fake writing and a D+, I quickly realized why this wasn't for me. I like to be honest and don't try to sugarcoat a pile of crap.
Like 741,000 other people, recently I bought Eminem's new album Recovery. I was listening to the whole album, which is basically Eminem dissing on himself, calling himself out and owning up to his mistakes and drug problems, even calling his last album "ehh" (which is true). Eminem's honesty leaves no room for the media to question him or TMZ the opportunity to have an exclusive on what drugs Eminem did. Because he lists them off himself.
Every day on the show, I have the journalistic job of reporting the entertainment schmuck of the day. My journalism studies have gotten me far and taught me how to read blogs and report borderline true information to the listeners. Having a deep understanding of what is going on with Jesse James/Sandra Bullock, Tiger Woods/Elin and Britney Spears/Jason Trawick has led me to the conclusion that their spokespersons are the problem. And that every PR practitioner needs to take some advice from Eminem.
Back in March, as Sandra Bullock's Oscar buzz was thriving, reports came out that Jesse James had been cheating with "Audrey-Hepburn-like-women." After days of blog sites, news outlets and pundits releasing exclusives, opinions and past interviews, Jesse James came out with a statement that read:
There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me. It's because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way.
This has caused my wife and kids pain and embarrassment beyond comprehension and I am extremely saddened to have brought this on them. I am truly very sorry for the grief I have caused them. I hope one day they can find it in their hearts to forgive me.
What I gather from this statement is Jesse James looking for a pity party for himself. He basically apologized for the results of his actions, not the actions themselves, which according to my 8 years of Catholic education is no apology at all.
Tiger Woods gave a big long press conference that can be read here, apologizing, yes, but never explaining exactly what he did. He ran us through the ringer, had choreographed hand movements and even faked a tear, like Chris Brown at the 2010 BET Awards.
It's apparent to me that people in the PR industry either don't know what honesty is or don't think honesty pays. Clearly, they need to go buy Eminem's CD. Wouldn't their job be so much easier if the blunt truth was released? Yes, my client cheated. Yes, my client is dating her. No, my client is not pregnant. Instead they release a fluffy line: "My client is single and focusing on their career" but the next day, the client is photographed making out on the beach in Cabo.
If Tiger Woods would have come out days after Thanksgiving and released a statement saying:
The multiple reports that have come out recently about me may or may not be true. What is true though is that over the years of my marriage to Elin I was unfaithful with multiple women. Much has transpired over the past few weeks with me, Elin and my family and I have realized how selfish I have been. Elin and my children do not deserve to be treated the way I have treated them as a father or husband. We are talking with an attorney to figure out the best way to handle this so it will be smooth for our children. They are the ones whose lives have been flipped upside down. I want to say sorry to my fans for not possessing the integrity you all believed I had. I ask for everyone to respect my family's privacy and you all will be kept in the loop of what is going on because I owe everything I have today to my fans.
Had Tiger said something remotely close to this, every news outlet would not have been so intrigued by the controversy because the unknown suspense of Tiger/Elin would no longer be there. It would have faded off and Texts from Tiger, Behind the Gates and many other raunchy websites would not be the ones weaving the story.
I'm not sitting here saying everyone who practices public relations is bad. I'm saying every person who tries to spin a story that could be crystal clear is doing their client long term damage. If a news outlet claims someone is pregnant, why deny it now and confirm it in two months?
Go read the lyrics to Eminem's "Not Afraid" single and you'll know everything that he's been through lately. I don't think you can say the same for any other celebrity or public figure.
Bravo Eminem. Take notes PR practitioners, press secretaries and advisers.