Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gay Mormon public relations

While not the poster boy for gay Mormons, nor the longest running blog on the topic, I've found myself getting a lot of attention in the wake of the SLT article on married gay Mormons. Since then I've received an invitation to be in a documentary on gay Mormons and today I got an e-mail from a TV show that wants to talk to me to "educate" them on the issues my wife and I face (as well as others in a similar situation).

I attended a conference once on speaking to the media (for a completely different context) and the main take home message I got from it is that you should never ever assume anyone from the media is your friend. It's all niceties and politeness until you see the soundbite they chose which misrepresents your position and casts you as an arrogant stupid person that viewers can only assume is responsible for everything that is wrong with this country.

I was reluctant to even speak with the SLT faith section journalist, but during the course of our interview I became more comfortable with the idea. She had reported on various aspects of gay issues in the past and seemed to be looking for one more interesting aspect without a pre-conceived idea of whether or not my situation was something to be respected or scorned. That seemed to turn out all right. I've appreciated the civil dialogue that came from that (even the skeptical), and so if I could only know ahead of time that that's the type of media show we're talking about, I wouldn't be so reluctant.

What would you do? (Or in the case of those who have probably received similar invitations, what WILL you do?)


Anonymous said...

I just tried to post here, but apparently I'm not good enough in Blogger's eyes to leave a comment with my ID.

I work in corporate public relations. To summarize what I wrote previously but lost:

* If you don't want to see it in print or on the air, don't say it.

* There is no such thing as "off the record."

* Most reporters will try very hard to represent your views objectively and accurately. Their reputation is on the line with each interview as well as yours.

* You can sometimes get a journalist to agree to check quote or review footage before using them. Some reporters will agree to this. Many will not.

-Chris (hurricane)

Anonymous said...

I’ve done it too, and have had a good number of regrets (and some good experiences). You, in my experience, are right on with:

“…you should never ever assume anyone from the media is your friend. It's all niceties and politeness until you see the soundbite they chose which misrepresents your position...”

I have too many anecdotes on this one to list in a comment (maybe I’ll blog about it if I can do it carefully), but you should expect to have the worst thing you say be the quote that shows in print or on the TV. You think you said something perfectly concise and insightful? Great, it won’t show up anywhere :-).

You should also expect the most sensational aspect of your story to be played up (I’ve even had reporters make up stuff to make it seem more controversial). If you show the slightest bit of hostility, that will be favored.

I think many gays in my camp make the mistake of believing the “liberal media” will treat them 100% fairly, and get blindsided if the hope to sell papers, and commercial space wins out.


Master Fob said...

If you appear on the Dr. Keith show, I'll be happy to hand over the Poster Boy mantle.

Anonymous said...

in college i was interviewed, along with other lds students in my college [just a handful] by the 'new era' regarding a new temple that was being built in the area. misquoted, taken out of context, mixed-up attributions. 'all the news that fits, we print.'


Samantha said...

Let me know if you decide to do the shows--especially if anonymously!! I REALLY want to see the "shadow" effect on you and hear that cool voice distortion thing!

If you DON'T do it anonymously, this could be an extremely unique way to come out to your family. You get all the breaks...I'm so jealous...

Loyalist said...

leave it to Sam to think of the funny behind the issue.

my advice regarding the media - be careful, wareful, watchful and by all means don't trust 'em.