Chapter Eight: Communication; 9 August
I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
|Make Your Own Positive Sound Bite|
“I am not a crook,” said President Richard Nixon in 1973 about the Watergate scandal.
What did America hear? Nixon, “I AM not a CROOK.”
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” said Bill Clinton in 1998 about Monica Lewinski.
What did America hear? Clinton: “I DID not HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN.”
These experienced politicians got entrapped by a simple question from the press. It would appear that these men trusted their own wit rather than be accountable to a higher authority. However, it is easy to avoid this snarky snare from the unpleasant press.
Merrie Spaeth, who was President Reagan’s Director of Media Relations, is credited with naming this phenomenon: A Bimbo. A woman named Jessica Hahn got caught with a backsliding tele-evangelist. Merrie Spaeth explains,
BIMBOs illustrate the perils of repeating and denying a negative word. Listeners often ignore the denial and hear the opposite of the speaker’s intent.
The category was named for the woman who — after being caught in a tryst with a high profile, married man — announced to the world, “I am not a bimbo,” thus causing everyone to think she was.
Jessica was a denier and not believable. Sounding much like a line from Hamlet, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks …”
Those Jessica Hahn photo spreads in the November 1987 and the September 1988 issues of Playboy didn’t help much in her Bimbo denial.
But sometimes people are just out to get you.
If the question is ever, “Did you break the law?” The amateur will answer, “No, I did not break the law, I am not a crook—what do you think I am? A bimbo?”
Never repeat back the negative. Always go affirmative.
The thinking manager will answer, “Our professional team and our associates always work in keeping with the law and exceeding expectations…”
The lesson is simple: The entrapping set-up is not to be repeated. Frame the past, present and future in the positive.
This is more than a public relations response to avoid a trap by a journalist; this is a positive life lesson.
For example, Your Business Professor corrected his own daily Bimbo’s with his children’s lunches.
Old: “Don’t forget your lunch.”
The kids always forgot their lunches. No wonder, that’s all they heard.
New: “Remember your lunch.”
The kids would then, more often than not, remember their lunches.
Don’t get caught (bad). Know who to trust (good).
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:2-3
“My goal was to help the reader think about communication with key audiences- employees, the media, the public, shareholders, business partners, and to offer practical and entertaining advice for today’s executive,” explains Spaeth. “It’s a crucially important skill, and almost everyone needs to do a better job communicating.”
Spaeth highlights another Clinton Bimbo, “I will not be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans,” wrote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her upcoming book, “Hard Choices.”
Via Politico, “Exclusive: Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi chapter,” May 30, 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/hillary-clintons-benghazi-chapter-107240.html accessed 13 June 2014