Zimmerman Trial Juror’s 15 Minutes of Fame

 Zimmerman Trial Jurors 15 Minutes of Fame

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Juror B37.

As protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman grew increasingly violent across America and pundits  decried the justice system, one person close to the verdict finally spoke out. Juror B37, whose identity remains anonymous, took to the news shows to try to shed light on how the “not guilty” verdict was reached.

Cloaked in darkness, B37 told Anderson Cooper how the jury was hamstrung by the evidence and  Florida’s state laws. Unable to “find him guilty of something,” she tearfully explained, “We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards.”

Any intentions toward illuminating the reasons for the jury’s verdict, or to quelling the increase of violent protest, were lost when another fact was revealed: Juror B37 had been offered a book deal, by the same agent who represents the former boyfriend of accused murderer Amanda Knox. The Twitterverse promptly bombed the agent with demands that she rescind the offer (which she did). Juror B37 also released a statement saying, “[Being sequestered] shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case… The best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life.”

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Juror B37. An opportunity to do good was lost in a bad decision.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: In volatile situations, put out the fire, and brush off your own clothes later. Once released from sequester, five minutes in front of a TV would have clued Juror B37 into the fact that this trial has polarized a nation. It’s natural to want to explain the process leading to a shocking verdict. It could even have been helpful, showing how the law works, and doesn’t. Zimmerman, Knox, and others acquitted of high-profile crimes may have no other financial recourse but to sell their stories to publishers, but for an anonymous juror, this seemed self-serving. Everyone wants to be rich and famous, but the needs of the many – in this case, a confused and dismayed nation – must outweigh the needs of the one.

What In “God’s Plan” Was George Zimmerman Thinking?

screen shot 2012 07 19 at 11 53 58 am 300x254 What In Gods Plan Was George Zimmerman Thinking?

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for George Zimmerman.

Who knows what George Zimmerman was thinking when he went on Fox yesterday for an hour-long interview? He clearly had messages he wanted to convey but in the end, his sit down interview probably made matters worse. The self-appointed neighborhood watchman, who made national headlines for murdering unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, looks set to continue being an ongoing lightning rod.

Presumably Zimmerman wanted to set the record straight ahead of his trial. His key message, “I’m not a racist, I’m not a murderer,” got ample airtime, but it was his other responses that made headlines. Zimmerman was asked if there was anything he regretted about the night he killed Trayvon Martin. “No sir, “ was the response. “I feel that it was God’s plan and not for me to second-guess or judge it.”

Zimmerman tried to make some amends by saying he prays for the parents of Martin daily and that he would “tell them again that [he is] sorry.” The interview concluded with Zimmerman looking into the camera apologising that his actions have polarized America. The key takeaway? The only thing guaranteed was that the interview further enraged Martin’s parents. What a mess.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for George Zimmerman. Apologies don’t work when you invoke the work of others, perhaps even blaming them, and that includes God. Where was his prep before this interview took place?

The PR Takeaway:  There was so much wrong with this interview. An hour-long television interview is the wrong way to apologize. If you do choose this route, say you are sorry in a short interview without bringing God into it to reduce your culpability. After this interview aired, Trayvon Martin’s father issued a statement saying, “I simply really don’t know what God George Zimmerman is worshipping, because there’s no way that the God that I serve had in his plans for George Zimmerman to murder my son.” With this sound bite, the worth of Zimmerman’s lengthy interview was reduced to zero.

Should George Zimmerman have done this interview? Should he have been better prepped? Is there anything at all that went right with this God-forsaken interview? 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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Who Won This Weekend’s PR Booby Prize?

Trayvon martiin5 Who Won This Weekends PR Booby Prize?

The PR Verdict: “D” for Santorum and Gingrich in the Trayvon Martin case.

It’s a tie for the weekend’s booby prize for mistaken PR strategy.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich both win for their knee jerk reaction to Obama’s statement surrounding the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old from Florida.  Obama caught the headlines on Friday with his comment  “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon… When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”

Santorum and Gingrich immediately went into attack mode.  Gingrich asked rhetorically if the President was suggesting that  “if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn’t look like him?”  while Santorum chimed in, saying the President shouldn’t use this case to “drive a wedge in America”.

Romney was the classiest of the Republican contenders.  He echoed the President’s comments about this being a matter for all Americans and added the public needed to be reassured that justice is “carried out with impartiality and integrity.”

The PR Verdict: “D” for Santorum and Gingrich.  Both came across as not listening and making cheap political capital.  In so doing, both ceded the higher moral ground to Romney.

Given that Obama had avoided mentioning the words “black” or “race” it was always going to be a PR risk to claim the President was milking the Martin case for political gain.  Romney’s team understood the PR advantage in not being in constant attack mode.  They  might want to thank Santorum and Gingrich for helping to inadvertently elevate Romney to a more presidential and thoughtful standing.

To read more click here and here.

What’s your PR Verdict on the Republican candidates response to Obama’s comments on Trayvon Martin?

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