- Public Relations
Charlie Gasparino, financial journalist and CNBC on-air editor, ruffled some feathers this past Thursday when he presented on the Day One afternoon of the 2009 Spring Seminar. Was it because:
A) He dismissed the Page Principles as not worth reading before his session, despite the request…”I imagine there is something on the list about not bullshitting people,” he commented – nice guess Charlie, the No. 1 Page principle is Tell The Truth – you nailed one, almost.
B) He painted the profession as widely disconnected from any policy creation role at the companies they represent, and not really having all the info to do their jobs effectively? – Guess there was no time for him to bone up on the AW Page Mission of strengthening the management policy role of the CCO.
C) The way he positioned PR folks as well, not liars, but people “who spin too hard 180 degrees in the wrong direction?”
The answer is most likely all of the above.
During his hour-plus presentation, chock full of Q&A, attendees got the blow-by-blow of the names, dates, places, people and things — woven with the ins and outs and late night, last minute conference calls — that led to the melt down of the various former Wall Street elite companies. All highlighted by how “poor PR spin magnified the crisis.”
Using the analogy that “you learn good poetry by hearing bad poetry,” Charlie shared his most painful examples of what he described as bad PR – hard spinning spokespeople who have all been proven wrong.
Charlie contends better Public Relations could have reigned in the Wall Street outrage we are currently experiencing. Speaking about Wall Street firms, his belief is that more open and honest dialog and getting tight lipped CEO’s talking about their business could have gotten us to a better place.
Now did Charlie have a bad experience? – I don’t doubt it. Is it fair to paint the PR profession based on a handful of interactions that I imagine were less than transparent – probably not.
But Charlie did give us important information. Insight into the thinking, approach and demeanor of a well respected, practicing journalist who has the potential to influence the reputation of the world’s leading companies.
Whether we agree with Charlie’s approach, one that some would categorize as vindictive, others as arrogant, and some as relentlessly focused on surfacing the news, it is clear that he is not going to change any time soon. Cable news is an evolving game, and CNBC will ride the current ratings wave the best way it can. And part of that will include Gasparino’s aggressive approach to getting news that engages the audience.
So was it unsettling to listen to his “text book examples of how not to handle the press?” Sure. Was there something to be gained by hearing the ugly details of his first person interactions? Absolutely.
And as for Jon Stewart, I believe the recent Cramer-Stewart saga was clearly a no win situation for a TV network whose life blood is based on the credibility and validity of the information it provides. To have that information ridiculed hurts all at CNBC. As the former VP, PR for the network, I feel their pain, despite being a number of years removed from the organization. So when Gasparino was asked what he thought about Jon Stewart’s interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, his response was: “sure it’s funny, when taken out of context, but John Stewart is full of shit. I’m tougher than Jon Stewart.”
No one asked who was tougher, but thanks for sharing Charlie.
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