The public eye never blinks. That statement has got to be one of the most powerful concepts that many people don’t think about or even realize. The facts finds a way of coming out through some of the most absurd ways possible at times. As individuals, we think we can keep anything a secret, whether it’s about our private lives or anything else we don’t want people to find out about. What I am coming to realize through my own research and personal life, is that secrets usually exist between two people. Meaning one more person other than yourself is aware of the thing you want nobody else to know about. People are always watching, listening, observing, and communicating with other people on a daily basis and really whether you want to believe it or not your secret isn’t so secret. The public eye never blinks.
In thinking about this concept of a secret critically for a few days, I thought about it in relation to business. Companies are participating in shady business every day, from violating health regulations to safety precautions they think they can get away with anything. Well guess what? Eventually your company can be front page on a major publication for something you thought nobody would find out about, causing a public relations disaster for everyone involved. If a secret can barely exist between two people what makes anyone think a group can maintain that trust of not leaking information to anyone else?
Now using what I have learned from this I thought about this concept in terms of public relations. What makes a good public relations practitioner is having an outstanding level of credibility, meaning holding your clients accountable for their actions. In terms of PR, if a client was ever involved in a situation that has the potential to hinder their career or reputation, coming forward first is such a huge step in the right direction. It’s kind of like a break up, would you rather someone else tell you that your boyfriend is about to break up with you? Or would you much rather him tell you first? I think I know the majority opinion on that question. This concept is quite the same with clients, if they bring their faults to the forefront, apologize and begin corrective actions then things will be so much easier than having a secret leaked to the media causing a huge scandal that can require months or years to fix.
There are numerous positive and negative examples of this concept but I’m going to lighten the subject a little and use a pop culture reference. David Letterman, who is about to turn 67, announced on his late night show that he would be retiring in the coming year. He announced this live to his audience and staff all at the same time. While in this situation there was no foul play at hand, it was such great PR for Letterman to announce this himself instead of being forced out by media and late night viewer comments. Letterman knew it was coming, he knew he was the oldest of the late night talk shows and saved himself the pain and trouble of dealing with the circus that could erupt from this story and just came forward on his own and did retired.
“I think Dave is smart enough to realize that it’s be best to exit before the narrative begins about him being the eldest of the late night hosts and stories begin about when he’ll be leaving or worse–when he’ll be pushed out. He’s exiting in a great spot. He handled it very well.” –Glenn Seling
Letterman has had a positive track record of keeping it real with his audience and the media, in 2009 Letterman revealed the news of him having affairs with female CBS employees. He didn’t wait for this story to explode on its own, he came forward and did what was right and was widely praised by many for being so proactive in dealing with that situation.
Coming forward on your own is always the best bet, don’t want for something to come out about you to address it. Be upfront and maintain your credibility by holding yourself accountable. Oh and always remember, even when you think no one will notice, someone somewhere is going to notice. The public eye never blinks.