Recently basketball player Lamar Odom, Khloe Kardashian’s husband (technically they were still married when this incident took place), was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel. The news media picked up on this and had a ‘field day,’ including approaching brothel owner Dennis Hof for comment about the incident. When Kardashian’s publicist asked Hof to stop speaking to the media, he said no. And rightly so.
All businesses, organizations and company spokespeople can learn significant lessons from Dennis Hof’s refusal to comply with the Kardashian camp.
- Kardashian’s husband Lamar Odom was found unconscious at the Love Ranch.
- He had been at the legal brothel for a “multi-day, $75,000 party with two women.”
- He was rushed to the hospital.
- He had allegedly used a sexual performance supplement described by Hof as “herbal Viagra.”
- According to an NBC report, Hof received a call from Khloe Kardashian’s publicist asking if he was speaking to the media.
- Hof confirmed that he was speaking to the media. The publicist allegedly replied, “Just send that information to me, and Khloe will be speaking about Lamar.”
- Hof’s response, according to the NBC report was–and here is the lesson–“Excuse me, this is my place of business, and I know what happened, and Khloe Kardashian is not going to speak for me. And would you do me a favor? Tell Khloe Kardashian to go to hell.”
According to the article, Khloe Kardashian’s publicist did not “immediately return a phone call from NBC News.” (Note that PR experts coach clients to return all press calls as soon as possible.)
- When your company addresses a crisis, you must control the communication dialogue. In a situation such as the Odom incident, if Hof had acquiesced to the publicist’s demands, he would have lost control of both the crisis and the crisis communications, and he would have had no control over the Kardashian camp’s messaging.
- Never allow yourself to be bullied or coerced into handing over the microphone to a third party who has no interest in your business.
- Appoint one consistent spokesperson who can be supported by additional company and external experts. The company spokesperson and the backup spokesperson should be well trained in media relations.
- This process not only allows your company to control the messaging, but also allows you to amend its messaging as a dynamic situation unfolds.
- Staying in control of communication allows your business to maintain credibility, provided you communicate appropriately and effectively.
- If the other party decides to use its own spokesperson, depending on how adversarial the situation is, both parties can agree on messaging and even share the same platform and address the media together.
- When communicating about a crisis, it is crucial that you rely on your outside PR consultants who know you and your business.
- The only time a company spokesperson should step back is when instructed by law enforcement authorities, or when the company is requested not to communicate about an event by a government entity that has the authority to request that only they communicate about an incident, as in NTSB requirements immediately following an aviation accident.
NOTE: PR Lessons are condensed knowledge-sharing articles from Fortress Strategic Communications. Each lesson seeks to share important insight and objective opinion on newsworthy and not-so-newsworthy events.
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Based in Syracuse, N.Y., Fortress Strategic Communications provides specialized strategic public relations and crisis communications consulting to companies that offer products, services, and solutions designed to manage and mitigate all types of risk. The company draws on their executives’ combined 20 years of global experience in a broad array of vertical markets. For more information please visit www.fortresscomms.com