Honey vs. Vinegar: PR Advice for PR Professionals
Sometimes even the professionals need help. Red carpet events are full of public relations opportunities and nightmares. Recently at the Toronto Film Festival, ID Public Relations’ Manager Bryna Rifkin had an unfortunate and rude interaction with the media. Rifkin, who has worked with such artists as Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence, went to a place many PR pros may think about going when dealing with persistent journalists.
While representing Marion Cotillard, Rifkin had the following confrontation with French-Canadian journalist Catherine Beauchamp:
While it may be easy to pick apart why this is an example of “how not to engage the media,” I’m willing to bet every public affairs manager has had a bad day. Hopefully it wasn’t caught on video, which may cause the temporary sigh of relief for many of us. Unfortunately for Rifkin, her statements, and more importantly, her attitude were recorded. Instead of throwing stones at a fellow PR professional, we should look for a lesson to be learned or remind ourselves of our industry’s best practices.
Whether you acted on it or not, we have all been there mentally. We need to remind ourselves that reporters are just doing their jobs. We may not always agree with their tactics or story focus, but burning bridges is never a good idea – see Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s response to bad press from the New York Times.
For public relations and nearly every other interaction in life, I always defer to the advice of my grandma, “Kill them with kindness.” A smile and polite statement go much farther than a snide comment and cold shoulder.