I recently came across an article I found to be very disturbing regarding singer John Mayer and one of his many attempts to attract media attention. This article was an opinion piece written by Talia Whyte this morning courtesy of the website The Grio. You’ll quickly see why I found this to be interesting to those interested in a career in public relations.
According to the article, in a recent interview with Playboy magazine, Mayer made offense racial remarks regarding something called a “hood pass”. From what I can understand, this term is similar to the term “ghetto pass”,which according to Urban Dictionary is “a person defines themselves or proves that they have a history of overcoming adversity proving their knowledge of the street and has the ability to hold themselves and their reputation as a person of the ghetto whether their of color or not.” Mayer said despite the claim he did not have this so-called “hood pass” and used a derogatory term in reference to a particular racial group.
This isn’t Mayer’s first tryst with public statement blunders. According to the article, he has also made many references to his own physical appearance that is said to have left his fans a little unsettled. Immediately after the world caught wind of this interview, Mayer logged on his Twitter account and apologized. This was more than likely the advice his publicist gave him.
So how does this relate to PR? Well realistically most of us won’t work for celebrities when we enter into the “real” world, but we may have to deal with people, much like Mayer, who are constantly saying the wrong thing. Let’s say you work for a client who has never quite grasped the meaning of “off the record” during interviews. This client on more than one occasion has made comments about the company he or she represents that could be considered “off the cuff”. As the representative of this person, it is your job to advise what the best course of action is when confronting the media about the comment. Sometimes, like Mayer’s publicist, you must strongly urge the client to immediately apologize to minimize damage. Other times you may want to guide the person in the direction of more direct action, much like in the Michael Vick case. Merely apologizing was not going to save this man’s reputation. Whatever the course of action you decide, minimizing damage is always the best goal. In PR you must always remember that your job essentially is to make the client look their best. So when they do something outlandish, much like Mayer often does, it is your job to figure out how to make the situation better. Let us now take a moment to salute Mayer’s publicist for all of the hard work he or she has done and has coming.
To read the entire John Mayer article, CLICK HERE.