What Would Bill Do? Media Coach Bill McGowan Takes on the News


In the latest edition of our series with Clarity Media Group founder and media coach Bill McGowan, Bill takes on the biggest story of the moment…and a couple more.

A December to Forget

And you thought the racially offensive emails among Sony executives was bad (and it was!).  Now we find out that in addition to being insensitive and snarky, they’re cowards too.

The studio’s decision to cave in to terrorists by scrapping The Interview is a catastrophe that will leave a stain on their brand for many years.

Clearly this was a case where the lawyers ruled.

Executives must have been told that if even one person got injured as a result of going ahead with the movie’s release, that they would be sued for everything they had.  What about publicly stating, “terrorists will have no say in our freedom of speech,” and then limit its distribution in order to invest in added security in the reduced number of theaters the movie is shown?

Of course some theaters would have refused to show it anyway and box office revenues would suffer, but not nearly as much as Sony’s image for turning tail.  Today it’s a silly comedy that is silenced, but tomorrow it could be an important documentary or n investigative piece of journalism.  I bet if you ask all the principal players from the CBS News 60 Minutes expose on the tobacco industry that had the guts of that story removed, they would tell you it was a mistake to obey the lawyers and cave into threats.

Et Tu, Rupert?


Rupert Murdoch really needs to get out more and see more of the world. The last time we checked, Egypt was not populated exclusively by “white people,” as he insisted recently.


The News Corp honcho singlehandedly shifted the demographics of the entire Middle East in response to criticism that Fox’s  film, Exodus: Gods and Kings had an excessively Anglo cast.  Perhaps the better approach would have been to defend casting decisions by speaking to the enormous talent assembled and his faith in the cast’s ability to transport and immerse the moviegoer in the most authentic way imaginable.  Getting into a racial debate is never a winning strategy.

Uber Has No Allies

If this keeps up, people may actually start to feel sorry for Uber.  Maybe that’s the secret strategy behind their seemingly never-ending string of PR fiascos.  Amidst the tragic hostage situation in Sydney recently, during which part of the city was evacuated, automatic controls made Uber rates spike to four times the normal rate.

But the problem was not in Uber’s automation – it was with its people responsible for responding to this price surge issue. The comms response was way too inwardly focused.

uber sydney

In the midst of a crisis, never EVER discuss money.  This preposterous response makes it sound as though they needed to dangle a money-making carrot in front of their drivers before they would consider lending a hand.  When your company’s valuation is estimated in the $40-Billion ballpark, I think you can set aside your monetary motivations at least once in a while.