An Open Letter To Sean Spicer From One PR Professional To Another

Ask yourself this question: “In what circumstance would bringing Hitler into any conversation, in front of press, be smart?”

I think you are in need of a quick PR primer and I am guessing that no one on the White House communications team is stepping up to the task. I would even venture a guess that most of your staff is looking in any other direction than yours at this moment. So, as a fellow peer, I will gladly remind you of some basic PR principles. I actually need to because every time you open your mouth my stomach does this weird thing where I feel very uncomfortable and unsure of what is going to happen. It’s like that moment right before one realizes they have food poisoning and bad things are about to happen and you have no choice (or control really) but hope it’s over really fast so life as you know it will be good again.

So here they are, some basic PR principles that you seem to have forgotten:

1. Never compare anything or anyone to Hitler. Before deciding whether there is an analogy to be made, ask yourself this question, “In what circumstance would bringing Hitler into any conversation, in front of press, be smart?” The answer will always be ‘never’ and remember this always.

2. If you forgot the first principle, and did mention Hitler and then are asked to explain what you meant, make sure you don’t say “Holocaust Centers” because there were no such ’centers’ and in fact, no one has ever before juxtaposed those two words together. It would be a bad idea to do so. In different circumstances, and in no way associated with the Holocaust, it does make sense to say ‘community center’ or “recreation center’ as those are real things. FYI, the actual term you were grasping for is much more grave and real.

3. If you accidentally brought up Hitler and then juxtaposed ‘Holocaust’ and ‘centers’ you will need to apologize to those you offended. As a PR professional the best way to apologize is to take ownership of your error, be succinct and sincere. FYI, explaining what you meant is not the same as apologizing.

4. If you forgot the third principle and tried to explain what you meant, make sure no matter what, that you get it right the first time. It’s really poor PR practice if it takes three attempts to get the apology right. It suggests to the world you are insincere, ignorant and most likely absent at more than one high school history class. That would be really bad.

5. When addressing the press, always be honest, demonstrate respect and integrity. This will not only help you sleep at night but also do a good job. (As an extra bonus, this will help me sleep at night)

6. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, and it’s been happening since January 21, 2017, when you spoke about inauguration numbers, you really need to find a new job.

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