Reminder for David Cameron: Always Assume the Mic is On

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    Even the savvy can be caught in media mistakes

    British Prime Minister David Cameron had an important media skill reminder recently – always assume microphones are on. The PM was miked but off-camera preparing for a speech he was about to deliver when he made cracked a joke, stating, “We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn’t realize they hated each other so much.”

    Luckily for Cameron, the British audience is more accepting of a bit of cheeky behavior from their public figures, and he quickly smoothed things over while seated with two Yorkshire cricketing greats to watch a match in the afternoon following the slip-up.

    The reminder stands, however. If there’s a mic on your person, or anywhere near you (that includes smartphones and other recording devices you might not necessarily see!) you simply must be guarded in your speech. Many decry this as a loss of freedom, and that may be so, but the fact is saying the wrong thing and having it immortalized in a recording can haunt you for years.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]