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“Nothing’s Ever Off The Record.”

This statement is always included when I’m media training a celebrity or public figure and goes into the comprehensive written summary, as well.

It used to be a celebrity could depend on a reporter when they agreed something would remain off the record. And any well-trained reporter will be respectful of this time-honored arrangement. It’s the others just looking for a scoop and, more and more, the “citizen journalists” with no training or ethical boundaries. And sad to say, they’re everywhere looking for their own 15 minutes of fame.

But it’s not just celebs who have to be careful… we all do. When you’re in public, you’re a target and that goes for all public appearances including social media. As we have seen time and again, the media can either expedite a person’s public ascension, or quickly and devastatingly take him or her down. All of this is controlled through proper training and management. We all must become adept at navigating appearances and media interactions in order to benefit from the upside, while avoiding the “media slide” that is, unfortunately, so common today, where we all are judged and punished by a single misstep. Don’t risk your personal brand.

Quick to fall. Hard to get back up. Brutal. Doesn’t have to happen.

58 thoughts on ““Nothing’s Ever Off The Record.””

  1. Very good reminder, Ruth! Thank you! We always need to think before we speak or post. That would avoid so many misunderstandings – and snarky Facebook posts, wouldn’t it?

  2. This is an important topic and one we should all pay attention to, and point out to our clients. Thank you, Ruth, for delivering your message with impact. We need to take it seriously.

  3. Great advice, Ruth!
    I used to look at this as an invasion of my privacy. But since it isn’t going away and may get more intense, I choose to use this as a consciousness awareness method – keep my mind sharp and always be on the lookout!

  4. Hi Ruth. I’m excited for you that you are experiencing the adventure of rebranding and your next product release.

    My first impression when I clicked through to this post from your email was that the new website look is clutter-free, strong, and impacting. But immediately I’m surprised at all the grey…and wonder if coordinating with your yard fence was your intended purpose…? =)

    I found the content of this post interesting(although couched in an impersonal manner), and nearly missed playing the video because I thought the text was a transcript of the video. I think I read the text through first because the stretched justifying caught my attention. I’m curious to know why you chose such a wide text block.

    The biggest surprise for me is that you have a strong topical hook but you haven’t closed the text or the video with a call to action. I ended with the thought, “So, what do I do about it? What does this mean for me?” The footer bar doesn’t seem connected to the blog content, and the post doesn’t seem connected to me.

    I have to say the general feeling from my visit at “your place” is really depressing. Fiat lux, Ruth! =)

    1. I was pretty clear in my advice. Regarding the formatting/design, it’s fine you don’t like it. I’m not for everyone, Narelle, and I guess not for you. Still, thanks for your comments. I do appreciate your time.

  5. So true. Here’s an example: A few days ago I did an interview with a local news reporter as part of a story on men’s health. You can see it at http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S3832695.shtml?cat=10114 . It came off well, however, after the camera was off the reporter asked me a question that I was reluctant to answer. I went ahead and answered the question, and as she began to furiously take notes I suggested that my answer be off the record as it would detract from the main focus of the story. She replied that she wanted to include it, but ultimately must have decided that it did detract as my comments never made it into the story. I was relieved that it was off camera or my comments might have been included. Lesson learned….if you don’t want something in the story, keep your mouth shut!

    1. They can be very sneaky, Jim, and catch us off guard. As I tell my A-listers, your agenda and the media’s agenda are not aligned. Never lose sight of that. And phew for you!

  6. So true! It never ceases to amaze me how people post stuff on social media and then get thrown into the limelight and are surprised when their “private” posts are now public.

    Social media IS public. If you wouldn’t say it on a national broadcast…keep it to yourself.

  7. Hi Ruth,

    I never thought about that, but you are so right. Anonymity is definitely impossible in this incredibly connected world. We must remain congruent to who we are – a good foundation as I work on building my website.

    Best,

    Laura

  8. So true Ruth! I have noticed that people have become more careful with the photos they share or decide to publish, but they are not yet that careful with what they say in a relaxed setting or publish as their opinion on social networks. What they forget is you cannot take something back once said or published…you may apologise or try to explain that maybe that is not what you really meant, but it is so much simpler to just be careful and say the things that are in allignement with who you are or how you want to be percieved. Your simple sentence: Nothing is ever off the record. is a nice and simple reminder.

  9. Times have certainly changed and we must be on our best behavior at all times when in the public eye. It’s easy to forget how fragile our public reputation can be. Thank you for this reminder, Ruth!

  10. You’re absolutely right Ruth and this is such a timely reminder to remember that you’re the best brand ambassador for who you are what you do … Thank you !

  11. I agree with your post for sure! That is probably why I have been so cautious –perhaps too much! I had a completely word of mouth practice and just rebranded but now I am definitely ready to get out there and use social media, and make videos!

    1. Good, Jesenia. You’re right – you can be too cautious. No time like the present to get going with these things. Thanks.

  12. Wow Ruth, this information was so valuable. I need to make sure that being authentic is not the same as putting it all out there for the world to see. Thank you so much!

  13. You’re so right, Ruth. Unfortunately we sometimes take the bait and regret it later. I love this quote, and keep it in mind when someone is being particularly aggressive and hostile. “Don’t waste words on people that deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.”

  14. Great reminder about social media. It’s becoming common place to hear about someone being dropped as a candidate or losing a job because of something they’ve posted to Facebook and/or twitter. Today we all need to be mindful of what we say and do. As you say, we must take care of our personal brand.

    1. It’s confusing – reminds me of the whole casual Friday stuff when people didn’t know what to wear! Thanks, Annette.

  15. LOVE this blog topic! People think they’re immune to the kind of scrutiny that “A” list celebrities experience, but when you post online or appear on camera or speak at an event, you’re putting yourself out there too. Even people who comment on something are judged. Incorrect grammar, misspelled words, or mis-pronounciations all attract negative attention and then add your point of view and wham-oh! I’ve seen it happen on FaceBook – among friends! Thank you for the reminder to keep our brand in mind when we interact in a public forum! AND – LOVE your rebrand! It is fantastic!

  16. Hi Ruth,
    Public humiliation is definitely not what I’m seeking!
    Great reminder about how powerful, and expansive social media can be.It’s vehicle to our benefit or detriment. I hope to hear more about this topic. I’d also like to know how people have fixed their mistakes. Blooper stories can be fun.
    Warmly, Rachel

  17. Ruth ~ Thank you for the wise reminder! Even with “friends” this is a wise consideration. Fortunately, in my evolutionary Femine Power communities, this has never been an issue – with the Intentions and Agreements we have in place. In the public and business arena – I assume that I refreain from commenting anything that I would not want “repeated.”
    Thanks! – Danila

  18. I learned years ago to tailor my interviews to what and how I want to say it. The media is always looking for an angle to pick on if they can. I’ve been misquoted more times than I can count! Great advice to make sure you are careful in how you answer questions and what comes out of your mouth!

  19. Thanks Ruth. I haven’t had too much experience with reporters yet. I am looking to send some press releases in the second half of this year. A marketing friend has mentioned about being very careful when talking with reporters. Makes me nervous.

    1. You should be cautious, Linda, and a little nervous. But I think that’s good – makes you prepare. Thank you.

  20. I like the outdoor setting for your videos, but the first I notice when I see you standing in front of your fence and hydrangea is the dirt patch where no plant exists.

    1. The rabbits have been at my garden since day one this season. I suspect they were starved over our ridiculous winter. Thanks – good observation, Trudie.

  21. So true. What is said can never be unsaid. In a courtroom, a judge may say “Strike that from the record,” but can the jury strike it from memory? And, if you’re dealing with an auditor, can you say something in jest and expect it to be ignored? Unfortunately, my mouth has been a double 7.5 as I inserted not just one but both feet.

    If we can develop this awareness in the small things, we can carry it over to the big ones — I hope!

  22. As a former public radio reporter, I was very clear on the ethics of ‘off the record’ and would turn off my recorder if there was some relevant background my interviewee wanted to discuss but not broadcast. But there were times when OTR was not invoked, and the tangents were way more interesting than the subject we started out to discuss! 😉 While most reporters are not out to get you, there are those that will jump at the opportunity … and social media is another minefield altogether.

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