Anytime a company can get positive press during morning drive on a major news network, that's a golden opportunity. Unless. You haven't properly media trained the people you plan to put in front of the camera.
This morning a senior station manager at a Fed Ex Facility in Marietta, Georgia, joined CNN's American Morning to talk about the holiday rush. Fed Ex expected to ship 16 million packages today—yes I said today—a 12% increase over this time last year. Great news for the company, great news for the economy and great news for whoever is getting all these gifts.
Then Mr. Senior Manager went from Santa's Helper to the Grinch Who Stole Christmas in less than 60 seconds with one comment. When asked about staffing for such a rush, he commented that one of the things they do is "cancel vacations" at this time of year.
After that, the true reason for the story lost it's feel good 'umphh' for me. The reason for the story was to announce that Fed Ex is sending 15,000 live Christmas trees overseas for the troops. A wonderful gesture but all I could imagine were all those poor employees, with canceled vacations, chained to shipping tables with an overlord driving them to pack, load and ship these trees.
Lesson to learn? That just one casual phrase thrown out there, can change the entire story or perception for the viewer about your company or the message you are trying to convey. The story would have retained a positive, feel good message for me if he had simply said "everyone knows this is our biggest time of year and they really step up as a team to get it done."
Invest the money and time into media training for anyone that will go in front of a camera. Know the company's key messages, practice them and be prepared to bridge to them throughout your fifteen seconds or more of fame.
Everyone comes out a winner. Even Santa.