PR professionals know all about the damage that undisciplined outbursts, remarks and commentary can cause to one’s career and respective employer—especially in the Internet age, when political outrage travels faster than videos of adorable kittens.
David Chalian, the now former D.C. Bureau Chief for Yahoo News, knows too.
Mr. Chalian was fired within hours of commenting about the Republican National Convention festivities being held in Tampa Bay, FL, while Hurricane Isaac battered the Gulf of Mexico. He remarked on the Romney campaign’s seeming lack of concern for the storm’s victims–and the Republican base immediately clamored for justice.
Yahoo News, in an effort to limit negative PR fallout, acted swiftly. So Mr. Chalian is out—and he’s probably not having the day he envisioned when he put his socks on this morning.
PR experts must be able to assess situations calmly, logically and effectively within minutes, because decisions are often made in a crucible of incredible stress, unwieldy emotions and high-stakes consequences. Mitigating intense PR developments takes courage and temperament; it is difficult to grasp the true nature of incendiary moments until days later.
Mr. Chalian’s case involves the career of a regular, fallible man, but also includes the failings of a professional journalist who publicly neglected to uphold any semblance of objectivity, decorum or diligence. So what do you think PR pros—did Yahoo News make the right decision to fire Mr. Chalian?
Let us know in the comment section.
Also, some closing words of advice on this, and similar, situations:
Most of us know that our jobs begin when we enter the office environment. There is no gossiping in the elevator, the bathroom or the stairwell. If you want to say something political, ugly or brutally honest about a client, colleague or boss, you wait until you get home, arrive at your local bar or hit the gym and sweat it out.
Now, if you’re in politics or the media, your office environment is comprised of this geographic region: anywhere near a microphone—regardless of whether or not you think it is on. In other words, be very very careful–Chalian wasn’t, and it cost him his job.