O.J.'s Back in Court - What's the PR Lesson?

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O.J.’s back in court. This time, his lawyers are trying to get his theft and kidnapping conviction overturned on what O.J. claims was bad advice from his then-lawyer. He’s claiming that the sport memorabilia he was convicted of stealing in Vegas were actually his to steal.

Fine, but the jury still found him guilty.

I watched the news this morning and saw O.J. dragged into court wearing his prison uniform, looking noticeably older and overweight. Besides thinking who the heck gains weight in jail, I had to wonder if this was another one of his PR stunts.

Which leads me to my point. Besides wondering how many more instances we’ll have to endure with O.J. claiming he was/is innocent, it’s become increasingly apparent to me the number of companies, organizations and individuals who look at PR stunts as a good thing.

I say they are all wrong. I like a good Barnum & Bailey show just as much as anyone, but why do cases like O.J.’s have to sully the good name of PR? All it does for my profession is delineate the time when we’re really needed to help a client with some kind of problem – and provide a practical, workable, honest solution.

PR should be about telling the truth, not seeing how many times you can get your face on Access Hollywood or even in the local business journal just for opening up a new website or contributing to a local charity. It’s all about the “story” in terms of telling a really great story about what you do and being honest with your audience – your prospects, clients and the community – about your expertise in certain areas and how you are able to provide your own set of solutions.

What would have been a better alternative for O.J.? Besides trying to tell the trust umpteen years ago when he went through his first trial, he could have had a sit-down with a reporter from a major news channel/service and admitted to his faults. He doesn’t have to reveal all of his faults, of course, but he could come clean. After all, we love a good comeback story and thrive on redemption.

Lindsay Lohan – are you listening?

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