New Vatican PR’s First Announcement: I’m the New Vatican PR

 New Vatican PRs First Announcement: Im the New Vatican PR

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for the Vatican not publicly backing their new press rep, Greg Burke.

Are the Vatican’s PR troubles coming to an end? The Vatican has been looking around for someone to help its beleaguered image, following a series of ongoing PR disasters. The center of Catholicism announced earlier this week the appointment of a new Communications Director–Greg Burke, a 52-year-old American who has covered the Vatican for Fox News. Presumably he will be taking the organization into a new world of “fair and balanced” PR.

When organizations look externally for a PR adviser, it’s usually due to the unhappy realization that no one likes its messaging. In this case, when dealing with a 2,000 year old institution, it remains to be seen how much flexibility Burke has to fashion messages. Announcing his appointment, he explained to the media what a Communication Director does, describing the position as a “strategy job.” He said, “It’s very simple to explain, not so easy to execute: to formulate the message and try to make sure everyone remains on message.”

Strangely, the key person commenting to the media on his appointment seemed to be Burke himself. Where were the Vatican’s leaders welcoming him to the fold and confirming that its PR is about to turn the page?

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for the Vatican for its handling of the announcement and hiring of its new head honcho.

PR Takeaway: Start as you mean to go on. If a new hire is being brought in to change things up, then a strong public signal of this intention needs to be sent. Having Burke speak to the media about his own appointment without ringing endorsement from the people who hired him already makes him look lame and isolated. Next time, bosses, give your new hire firepower by welcoming and backing him publicly so that the organization and its stakeholders understand change is coming. And new hire, leave your announcement to the bosses and start talking only once your feet are under the table.

Can announcements about new public relations staff ever be made by the PR staff themselves, or does this send the wrong message? Give us your PR Verdict!

How Did Sybrina Fulton Make It Clear She Wasn’t Going There?

sybrinafulton How Did Sybrina Fulton Make It Clear She Wasnt Going There?

The PR Verdict for Sybrina Fulton: “A” for grace under pressure.

One of the more unintentionally instructive interviews on the Trayvon Martin case was Bill O’Reilly’s Friday interview on Fox with the mother of the murdered teenager.  For media trainers, SybrinaFulton’s interview was a fine example of control and consistency of message, despite the prodding of the host.

O’Reilly did most of the talking during the interview, asking plainly rhetorical questions while implicitly asserting that he was on the fair and balanced side of the debate.  He offered assistance to his guest as the trial approaches saying  “if you have anything you need, you come right to me”.  Sadly it was never clear what this meant.

At the beginning of the interview, O’Reilly asked imploringly “was I wrong to say that Al Sharpton should apologize?” referring to comments made by the activist at an earlier press conference.  Sybrina Fulton replied with calm sincerity  “You want me to comment on that?  I don’t know everything that’s behind it. …… So I’m not sure what response you want.”  For once,  O’Reilly gave in and moved on.

The PR Verdict:  “A” for Sybrina Fulton.  For grace under pressure and for not being sidetracked into a side issue .

PR Takeaway: When in doubt, bat the question back and repeat your key message.  Sybrina Fulton was clear with a simple demand: her son’s death to be duly investigated.   “I’m not sure what response you want,” was a line in the sand.  She was not going to be pushed into a corner fighting someone else’s PR battle.

To see the interview click here.

What’s you PR verdict on Sybrina Fulton’s interview?

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