Open letter to all “public persons”

03 Dec

I’ve been pondering the situation with Belgian minister Pieter Decrem.

I'm so drunk I need your shoulder to keep me standing up

I’m so drunk, I need your shoulder to keep me standing up.

For those of you who didn’t know what happened: He was on an official trip to New York and had some beers at night. A Dutch/Belgian waitress, who worked there, blogged about it. What most reportings do not say, is that he told her he was in NY because he had not been there yet. A few days later an aid to the minister called the bar owner and had the girl fired.

Minister Decrem has handled the situation really poorly. One of the first rules of marketing is that any publicity is good publicity. By going directly into a reactionary mode, he invited everyone to blame him for what has happened.

Here is what he should have done.

  1. If the minister was not responsible for the aid making the call, make him suffer the consequences. So fire the aid or at least make him apologize for doing what he did.
    If on the other hand, the minister was responsible (and he does not want to resign his post) offer an official apology and speak to the girl in person on the situation.
  2. Get the waitress reinstated in her job. Or better yet, hire her as a social media specialist.
  3. Go on TV and talk about what a good night that was, bonding with everyone of his entourage. Make it a positive experience in stead of a negative one. Appeal to the human aspect of the story.

So here’s the main tip for everyone getting into a situation such as this:

Every problem is also an opportunity.

If you don’t agree or have an opinion of yourself, don’t hesitate to comment!

1 Comment

Posted by on December 3, 2008 in Advertising


Tags: , , , , , ,

One response to “Open letter to all “public persons”

  1. Dave Gardner (aka "EditorDave")

    December 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    It’s a shame that folks in power and those that hang around with folks in power so they can maybe bask in that same power-influence will flaunt their so-called superiority in such a way.

    Although perhaps the waitress used poor judgement in making her “comment” on a blog (although a journalist would be “reporting news” and not get in trouble for hearing an inside tip like that), the minister and aide should not have gotten all uppity about it.

    Yes, celebrities, politicians, and those in the public eye like to get away from the crowds and have a moment of privacy and confidentiality–and here’s where the waitress may have used the poor judgement in posting information that the minister leaked in what may have been a casual conversation.

    But at the same time, this happened in a public place–other patrons at the restaurant might have heard the same comments.

    By the same token, a Los Angeles hospital recently came under fire because someone (a member of the staff) released some comments to the news media about the medical history of a famous Hollywood actress. This is an incredible breach of privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality. However, the papparazzi will obnoxiously drive celebrities literally to death with their constant hounding. And, leaks will happen–the “little people” get paid sometimes for releasing those leaks. Because the reporters/papparazzi can get even bigger bucks for selling the stories.

    I’ve had a similar situation happen to me–in which I tried to make a comment to a fellow writer about how to drum up business in a tanking economy… only to seriously and irreparably offend a potential job source that I was working on.

    Ah well. I’ve learned my lesson. Be more careful what I say in public. Be more careful what I pass on in public.

    For this post, I figure the damage is already done, so there’s no point in trying to backpaddle.

    Nice post. (And yes, there needs to be some soul-searching on both sides of your described situation.)

    Dave Gardner (aka “EditorDave”)


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