The Last Word

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“Never pick a fight with someone who buys his data by the gigabyte.”

~ Modern twist on an old caveat

It’s as true today as it was when Mark Twain, Will Rogers and others made similar observations about those who buy ink by the barrel.

The media always gets the last word. And in today’s world, “media” can be a as big as a sprawling news outlet, or as small as one person with an internet account and too much time on his hands.

Consider a recent expose in the New York Times about the NFL allegedly soliciting legal advice from the tobacco industry about how to successfully postpone coming to grips with major medical complications of their businesses. For the NFL, it’s concussions. For Big Tobacco, it’s cancer.

Only hours after the story was published, the NFL — feeling its arguments had been ignored — posted its own response online taking issue with the Times, point by point. Not to be outdone, the Times published the NFL’s letter, dissecting it point by point.

Or letters to the editor. The media may publish a whittled-down letter from you, then will tack on its own longer defense of the story and its conclusions.

Online disputes are even worse. Bloggers, whether they fancy themselves as “citizen journalists” or just like to argue, are loathe to admit mistakes. Civility can quickly go out the window. Rational discussion devolves into a single-minded effort to win.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who gets the last word. What does matter is whether you’re heard — and whether what you say is compelling. If you’ve made your case well, the other side’s final remarks will fall flat — or, even better, will look petty and argumentative.


“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.”

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