The Breakup Letters




Didn’t sign on to be liked.
We signed on to do a job.

“No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”
~ Sophocles, Antigone

Breakup letters are a thing of beauty.

Business world communications and lined paper communications (the 3-ring binder kind) are more similar than you might think.

“I need your advice. [Followed by detailed explanation.] I don’t know what to do! What should I say? How do I tell them?”

We’re often asked by clients, friends, and family how to give bad news, position themselves favorably in a situation, deflect unwelcome attention, and (if possible) keep things from ever leaking.

As the newest member of the firm, Eden is frequently asked how she ended up in the business.

“Formally, I’ve been with the company for a smidgen over six years. Informally, since I was a little girl. I’m definitely my father’s daughter!* My career started when I began writing breakup letters for friends in elementary school.”

The dynamics of helping classmates and bailing out clients are similar.

  • How well someone takes bad news depends on how it is administered.
  • Is the messenger understanding and sympathetic? Or cold and calculated?
  • How does the story sound? Believable? Or half-baked?
  • Is it coherent? Or is it strung together like someone trying to drunkenly recite the alphabet backwards?

Often, clients, friends, and family want us to play Cyrano de Bergerac. We supply the strategy and the message. They want to be (or feel the need to be) the one who delivers it.

But others realize they would melt in the glare. They prefer us to be the messenger. That’s fine, too.

We didn’t sign on to be liked. We signed on to do a job.


*For those who don’t know, a bit of background: The firm’s founder, Roger, has been doing this far longer than Eden’s been alive, first as head of West Coast business news for Associated Press, then as a senior corporate communications executive and a Crisis & Reputation Management consultant.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog, Insights on High-Stakes PR.

For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

Photo courtesy of


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