Lessons from the Jeopardy Debacle

Answer: This beloved TV show has made severe missteps in the last few weeks.

Question: What is Jeopardy?

Fans of the game show Jeopardy, including me, have been eagerly watching to see who will be taking over as host for the beloved Alex Trebek, who died last fall. The show has had 14 guest hosts filling in as the producers determined who would take over.  These guest hosts were essentially trying out for the gig in public and fans were very vocal on their favorites. After much fanfare over choosing a host, the show announced that Mike Richards, the current executive producer would be the new host.

Richards had filled in as the first guest host and did a credible job. But fan perception was that the show needed to find someone quickly to do the show after Trebek’s death, and Richards was only hosting until the other guest hosts were sorted out. It was never made clear that he was trying out.

The outcry was swift and loud. Adding to the mess, it was discovered that Richards had some pretty ugly skeletons in his closet from comments he made years ago on his podcast “The Randumb Show”. Richards apologized for his careless words, but the damage was done. He agreed to step down as host (without ever starting) but will remain as executive producer. The show is now in damage control mode from several PR crises of its own creation.

Here are a few takeaway lessons:

  • Communicate your intention clearly to your audience. The show should have announced that Richards was a candidate for the job and taken away his role as producer. While he stated he was not involved in the selection, it appears that he just chose himself, and the guest hosts never had a shot at the job.
  • Be careful what you post online. Once you post something, it never really goes away. Richards found this out the hard way when he tried to delete the offensive material, only to discover it had been archived.
  • Review your posts before hitting send. It’s better to err on the side of caution on social media and not post something if it can even remotely be considered offensive. The internet has a long memory and while Richards apologized for the remarks he made many years ago, the damage was done.
  • Be sure to vet job candidates thoroughly. The show had months to do a deep dive into each of the candidates, but it appears (rightly or wrongly) that they didn’t really vet Richards at all, since he already worked on the show.

The show has enough fans that this won’t mark the end of the show. Fans will be willing to forgive one mistake, but the show will need to be extremely careful with its next hire.

Media Interviews in the Time of COVID

COVID has brought about so many changes to our daily lives, both big and small.  One significant change that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon is that many of us, including the O’Keeffe team, are still working from home. So what do you when you have a media interview? BC, before COVID, you would head to the studio or have an interview on location. Many interviews are being conducted from living rooms, kitchens, or wherever your office is these days. You don’t have the benefit of professionals to set things up and keep it running smoothly. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your next remote interview.

Ask Questions

Ensure that you know how you are supposed to remote in and test the link before the interview. Check your sound and internet connection by having a dry run with a colleague or family member. You’ll want to make sure that you have the producer’s contact information if trouble should arise. If your interview is being conducted using your computer, don’t forget to turn off all sounds and notifications. Finally, as with all interviews, make sure that you are well prepared. Just because you are at home and perhaps more comfortable, you’ll want to be prepared to get in your key talking points.

Location, Location, Location

While you may not be the only one in your household during the day, you will want to find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted by other people or pets. Make sure that the room is well-lit, preferably from natural light, and has a clean, neutral background. It’s fine to have objects on the walls; make sure they aren’t distracting. You’ll want the audience to focus on what you’re saying, not on your surroundings. We’re all familiar with what a great room looks like and those that are epic fails; for a few examples of both, check out RoomRater on Twitter.

Dress the Part

Even though the interview might be taking place in your home, it’s still important to dress appropriately for the audience and your company’s brand persona. While it goes without saying that you should dress professionally, that includes below the waist, unless you want to go viral for something other than your message. We’re all familiar with examples where this wasn’t advice followed and even worse.

Call in the Professionals

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to be prepared. A media training session will help ensure that you are prepared for various questions and will represent your company well. You’ll learn how to focus on your message and make sure that it comes through in your interview. This type of practice will make you feel more comfortable, and you’ll appear more confident when faced with the camera.

The O’Keeffe team has helped numerous clients over the years prepare for media interviews. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us before your next interview.

Meet Claire Chick

Help us welcome a new team member to the O’Keeffe team! Claire joins us with 20 years of experience in public relations, marketing, and investor relations.

Hi there, I’m the newest member of the O’Keeffe team as well as a newbie to the Cincinnati area! I relocated here for my husband’s job after I spent many years working in PR and marketing just up the road in Dayton. I’m thrilled to join such a hard-working, intelligent and fun group of people. It takes teamwork and collaboration to deliver superior results for our clients and we have a great one here.

I have a passion for communications and I have a particular interest in crisis communications and reputation management. I have worked on developing crisis plans for both large and small companies as well as nonprofits.

What’s your best piece of advice for a new marketer?

Don’t ever stop learning. This business is constantly evolving with trends, tactics and technology changing quickly, and as marketers, we need to change with them. You can learn something from people in all stages of their career, from the CEO to the intern.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

We consider ourselves your strategic partner. And in order for us to be the best possible partner for your business, we’ll need a thorough understanding of your business, your competition and your strategic plans for growth. We can’t be effective if we don’t have the full picture.

What was the last book you read?

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. It’s a fantastic story of two siblings, spanning five decades, and their relationship to each other and to the third character, the House. It’s a grown-up fairy tale complete with motherless children and a wicked stepmother. I can’t wait to see the inevitable movie/TV series. If you like audiobooks, Tom Hanks does a great job of narrating this one.

Favorite word?

Sweetie. I use this instead of my kids’ names when I’m talking to them. But I promise I’m not one of those people who uses it with strangers.

Least favorite word?

Moist. Isn’t that everyone’s?

What profession other than marketing would you like to attempt?

I would love to be a travel or food writer. Polly Campbell of the Cincinnati Enquirer has my dream job.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I’ve lived overseas. I’m a great dancer. I’m addicted to Diet Coke.