In a Crisis, Snap a Selfie

What better way to clear up confusion or go on the offensive in a crisis than to snap a selfie and post it on Instagram.

Jill Abrahamson, after her firing as executive editor of the New York Times, captured herself with boxing gloves and a punching bag.

Beyonce and her sister Solange documented themselves on Instagram skipping together following release of elevator video showing Solange in a punch-out with Jay-Z.

Does this mean Instagram is the new magic wand of crisis management? Hardly. But it is interesting.

Rule one in crisis response is to get out your story as quickly as possible – and to keep talking as long as the crisis lasts. Letting the story line get ahead of your story can be disastrous.

Ask former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki who was engulfed with a deepening scandal over delayed medical care for veterans and manipulation of wait time reports by local VA officials to cover up the truth and tune up their stats to receive incentive pay.

Ringing in New Year of Media Relations

Media relations hasn't disappeared, but it is evolving along with media itself, requiring successful story pitchers to be nimble, adaptive and creative.Media relations hasn't gone away, but it has changed as media has multiplied and evolved. There are more outlets to monitor and pitch, including your own self-publication platform.

Even the press release has managed to survive in a faster-paced, highly segmented media world, but it also has assumed new shapes and purposes.

The overlapping crazes of social media and content marketing have lost some momentum here and there, but they also are adapting and adjusting.

So the key is not to arrange eulogies for positions and tactics. Instead, be alert for change and learn how to capitalize on new circumstances. Most important, concentrate of delivering quality, useful information with sharp story hooks, which remains the hallmark of attracting media attention

Stupid Defense Lawyer Tricks

Buried in the copious stories and analyses of the George Zimmerman murder trial verdict were two bonehead moments by his attorney. They serve as a reminder that in this 24/7 world, you are never off-stage.

Attorney Don West began his opening argument at the trial with a knock-knock joke. After the not guilty verdict was handed down, West and his daughters celebrated with ice cream cones, which they documented on Instagram with the comment, "We beat stupidity."

West went into apology mode for both blunders, but you have to wonder, what was this guy thinking? He was representing a client in a high-profile murder case with deep racial overtones where every comment would receive national scrutiny and the verdict could spark huge protests. And he starts off with a knock-knock joke.

This kind of tone-deaf behavior can damage your standing, make people question your judgment and undermine otherwise credible arguments. It is insensitive and, frankly, stupid. 

One reporter said the knock-knock joke "was met with complete, life-sucking silence in the courtroom." Stephen Colbert "praised" the attempt at humor, calling it another great moment in "America's long history of murder humor."

Despite that flat-footed beginning and not calling Zimmerman to testify, West prevailed. You would have thought, savor the victory — in private.

But fueled with the endorphins from ice cream, the Wests gloated on Instagram with a comment widely seen as a further verbal slap at Rachel Jeantel, the young woman who talked with Trayvon Martin just before he was shot by Zimmerman. West was brutal in his cross-examination of the 19-year-old Jeantel, whose performance as a witness after the murder and at the trial prompted reams of commentary about the "cultural nuances" she represented in her testimony.