The Free Download on MyRagan this week explains why communicators should teach their executives to say, “I don’t know.” But what happens when communicators don’t understand the importance of these magic words?
They do gymnastics with the truth.
Take this recent example. On Aug. 1, news reports said comedian and actor Bernie Mac had been hospitalized for pneumonia. Mac’s publicist, Danica Smith, said the comedian was “responding well to treatments and should be released soon.”
Got it; he’s hospitalized, doing fine, we’ll see him soon.
Two days later, Aug. 3, sources told Chicago newspapers Mac was in “very, very critical condition.” His condition had worsened, the media reported. And Smith’s reaction to the development?
“Absolutely untrue,” she said, calling the reports “horrible rumors” and insisting “nothing has changed.”
Mac passed away Sunday, Aug. 10, of complications due to pneumonia.
Mac and his family deserved privacy and discretion during his final days—no doubt about that, but why did Smith have to fib? Why not tell reporters, “I don’t know the exact extent of Mac’s condition,” or simply, “I can’t comment on those reports.”
Danica Smith is a high-powered Los Angeles-based publicist so maybe she knows better than me—I don’t know.