It’s been two weeks since Chris Christie was seen chilling on Island Beach State Park with his family, setting off an internet meme fest and the lowest ratings yet of his 8-year career as the governor of New Jersey. Even though most news stories fade by this point, the photos of Governor Christie sitting in a beach chair are already being chalked up as one for the ages.
Luckily for us, there’s a lesson or two to be learned about publicity, whether you’re a public figure, an author, or a brand.
Here are four public relations lessons we can learn from Governor Chris Christie:
Don’t do a 180. When Superstorm Sandy hit, Christie was up and down the NJ coastline with President Obama. Back then, Christie was hailed as a hero. But the fiasco of #Bridgegate and #Beachgate, plus Christie’s attempt to put his hat in the ring for the 2016 presidency, left the New Jersey public feeling abandoned and his job left unfinished. When you do a complete 180 of your brand’s platform, it can leave your audience feeling confused, annoyed, or angry. Sudden moves=disgruntled public.
Keep your cool in an interview, even if it’s not going well. Recently Chris Christie was on a radio show, auditioning for a position as a host. Although it was pretty rude that one of the callers named Christie a “fat ass,” Christie also acted negatively when he called the man “a communist” and a “bum.” If you are in an interview and a host or caller is being unpleasant or asking uncomfortable questions, it says something about your character if you don’t stoop to their level and instead respond in a gracious, calm, and professional manner.
Not all publicity is “good publicity,” and public opinion counts. They say that all publicity is good, but not if the end result is detrimental to your brand. United Airlines and Pepsi’s recent missteps also prove that point—and now, especially with United, people are still on high-alert for their next slip-up (for instance, Inc. recently wrote a piece about United’s roll-out of selling already-booked tickets for a higher price instead of double-booking flights). With Governor Christie, he chooses to act dismissive towards reporters and citizens instead of responding in a courteous manner (“Run for governor, and you can have a residence”). So far, his belligerent reactions have backfired and the public has a low opinion of him.
Stick it out until the end. With only a few months of his governorship left, it’s clear that Chris Christie is “over” his position. But when you are a public figure, it’s best to maintain your grace and message until the end—so that when you finish a publicity campaign for your product, idea, or brand, you are leaving on a high note.
Do you have questions about publicity? Tweet at us @McKinneyPR. And, since we’re on the topic, tell us about your favorite beach or summer vacation spot!