Monday, November 3, 2014

First move: Jian Ghomeshi and public opinion

This one's pretty simple, really. CBC talk show guru Jian Ghomeshi was let go last week by his employer. And before tongues started wagging, he got out in front of the story, publicly describing the circumstances surrounding his departure in an online missive.
Jian Ghomeshi (2009)
By Penmachine (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
 or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)],
via Wikimedia Commons

Both CBC and Ghomeshi claimed he was sexually active. Sometimes past the point you might expect. The Vancouver Sun has a succinct summary of activities to date:

Jian Ghomeshi’s CBC lawsuit is hopeless — even if he’s telling the truth

Credit Ghomeshi for getting his story out first. He defused the kind of protracted gossip and speculation that fuels much of the U.S. media's obsession with celebrity misbehavior.

The PR lessons:
  • Tell your story first, with a singularity of voice and message
  • Do it without a news conference
  • Give no interviews later on, to avoid extending the life of the story
I wonder why more public figures in the U.S. don't try this approach. It would have spared people like Mel Gibson, Amanda Bynes, and at least one Kardashian a great deal of protracted embarrassment.

The outcome's easy to predict, too. Ghomeshi's $50 million lawsuit against CBC is unlikely to come to trial. Neither side wants more salacious headlines. Although some women claiming to have had encounters with the radio star are coming forward, so the headlines may creep along.

There will be some settlement at some point, and CBC will run Q (Ghomeshi's talk show) with new hosts and contributors, until someone decides to rename it.

The real headache for Ghomeshi will be returning to employment in broadcasting, now that he's been very public about his sexual preferences. On the other hand, Rush Limbaugh's overdue for retirement.