Friday, February 6, 2009

Baby mania

As another winter storm blew through Southern California Thursday and Friday, the "baby storm" kept up its whirlwinds.

The octuplets mother finally spoke today in an exclusive to the TODAY show. And, NBC will stretch out this interview as far as it can with the "full" story next week and interviews with the mother's other children.

Joann Killeen and Mike Furtney continue to manage this storm, which includes new "fronts" as reporters dig into the mother's medical records.

This story is brewing to be a classic public relations study. First, the incredible story about eight live births to a single mother. Next, the news media begins to dig and microphones are placed before relatives and friends. Crews are camped outside her home. (And the woman's poor children are forced to put blankets over their heads to go to school). The experts start giving their opinions without any context or background. The shock jocks on talk radio do their usual thing.

Do you get the sense this is like a court trial? It is.

Meanwhile, the mother works with Joann and Mike to tell her story at the appropriate time and to maintain a sense of order amid the chaos. Reporters sometimes hate public relations professionals because we stick to "message points" and won't be sucked into heavily baited questions. They hate public relations professionals because we have coached our clients on how to say things and what to say.

Yet, there are plenty of times when people said the wrong thing. Just look back at some stories in recent months and you'll find plenty of educated people, including our nationally elected, back step from a comment. "What I meant to say was...."

Now comes a 30-something mother under the glare and intensity and the training and experience of the nation's top news media organizations. So, yes, she needs a professional, an expert who has handled these type of situations.

While we can't wait to her more from the mother, I can't wait to hear from Mike and Joann in a few months after the dust has settled.

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