Control the Message: The TomKat Factor

Monday, 9 July @ 6:02 PM

How can I not post this week without a word about the scandalous break-up of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (I’m not saying it’s surprising)? In every story I’ve read and conversation I’ve had on the topic, the Church of Scientology has emerged as a major factor. Why? Because you just don’t know.

I assume I’m an expert because I’ve heard former members share their harrowing experiences. I’ve seen the Dateline special, read the tabloids and reviewed the list of devotees. The general tone of the discussions I’ve had suggests scandal, cult, something dark and sneaky.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’m no stranger to labels. But, in recent years, thanks to the public relations efforts of Church leaders – the late President Gordon B. Hinckley gave his noteworthy interview to 60 Minutes during my years at BYU – the Church has made the effort to control the message. In the case of the Church of Scientology, the move not to control the message has perpetuated the ignorance of people like myself who will rely on the information available to us in mass and social media.

As a church, a non-profit, a volunteer organization, there will be times when others will want to talk about you, and you may not want to talk. The conversation will go on regardless of your preference, but it is up to you whether you balance that discussion with your own message, and of possibly greater import, the facts.

In public relations, the best defense is a good offense. How’s yours?

2 thoughts on “Control the Message: The TomKat Factor

  1. Thanks for this timely and relevant example, Ariel.

    This is such a tricky area for many people. We have all seen situations in which the focus of attention made things worse with their response. From what I’ve seen, it is important to know if to step in, when to step in and how to step in.

    Having a strong grasp of the relevant facts and sticking to well thought out key messages seems to be what works the best.


  2. Thanks, Ric. I once had a client hemming and hawing at an opportunity we presented. What moved them forward was when I asked, “Are you okay if you see your competitor there?” The question of who you’d prefer does your talking is pretty compelling.

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