What do Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have in common? Textbook examples of what not to do.
Both denied wrongdoing, claimed there was nothing incriminating in their texts and emails, then promptly smashed their phone to smithereens and wiped the memory of their server.
That doesn’t appear innocent or reassuring. Not even to those who want to believe you.
And in the world of managing reputations, perception is everything.
Were Brady* or Clinton really guilty of anything? Not even time will tell since evidence has gone missing.
But public opinion doesn’t rely on evidence. It’s based on gut reaction — a volatile mixture of emotion and bias, skepticism and cynicism.
There’s an old saying: If you wouldn’t want it published on the front page of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, don’t put it in writing. Conversely: If you write it, presume it will be discovered.
People either fail to learn the lesson, or they quickly forget it.
The havoc that results ranges from simple embarrassment (if you’re lucky) to serious damage to your reputation, business or career.
Take Sony Pictures, where hackers earlier this year stole a trove of emails and have trickled them out. This caused substantial grief for Sony and cost the company’s co-chair, Amy Pascal, her job.
The latest batch of emails, released this week, reportedly reveal how Sony executives, lawyers and others sanitized its pending movie “Concussion,” about severe football-related brain injuries, to avoid offending the NFL.
Which brings us back where we started. Why does anyone feel compelled to memorialize things in writing? To create a record for posterity? Who suggested that was a good idea?
* It’s noteworthy that in overturning Brady’s suspension this week, the judge didn’t find him innocent of ordering footballs deflated. He simply ruled that Roger Goodell lacked authority to impose the suspension.
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