In Crisis Management, Media, Public Relations

When Maine Governor Paul LePage recently visited a Pratt & Whitney defense plant he dropped a bomb – literally and figuratively.  While perched in a flight simulator for the company’s F-35 Lightning II – a fighter aircraft to be used by U.S. military – an official asked him what he’d like to blow up.  The guv responded with: “I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up.”

Now that’s dumb.  But what struck me wasn’t that LePage went into a PR black hole.  It was that a communications specialist from Pratt & Whitney followed him in.  Claiming no one from the company had heard the ill-fated quip she said, “If he did, that’s not something we would echo.” Seriously?  Are we PR people so humorless that we don’t know how to slough off a silly remark as just that?

Yes, someone slamming a media outlet is not something any of us want to be part of.  But please, why couldn’t she put the remark into context and move the conversation back on message?  How about “Well, you know our Governor likes to have a little fun with things.  We’re just glad he’s here to bring media attention to the important defense work we do for our country. ”   It puts the silly comment where it deserves to be and redirects the dialogue  back to where it needs to be – on message and away from silly.

My thanks to for highlighting this journey into humorlessness to my attention.

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