Throughout more than 20 years teaching public affairs officers and advising senior leaders, up to and including the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on public/media engagement, I always started with one simple rule: You are always on the record.
This remains true today, with the notable exception that it no longer applies merely to people acting as official spokespersons for their business or organization. Today’s communication environment is characterized by communication technology that is fast, everwhere, and on the move, so those who use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms, whether professionally or personally, are now active participants in “the media.”
With this in mind, it is helpful to know and understand the three main attribution categories that can be applied in various circumstances.
Note: These categories are defined in slightly different ways by different people and organizations, so be sure everyone is working from a common understanding when you choose to use a particular form of attribution.
On the Record (Full, Direct, or By-Name Attribution)
Whether you are a private citizen or the senior executive of a major corporation, on the record should be your default setting. It means anything you say can be attributed directly to you by name and title/position – even if you are engaging unofficially or privately on your personal time.
Are you CEO of a mega-corp? You are on the record. Are you Tweeting or posting your personal opinions on a personal account? You are on the record. Are you talking to a friend in line at the movie theater or while getting a speeding ticket? You are on the record.
Remember, “I deleted it” won’t save you from a screenshot. Today we are all and always on the record.
Are you thinking about going off the record? My advice is: Don’t.
But if the need is real, be sure to read Parts 2 and 3 of this blog post in the coming weeks. You can also follow us at our North of Center pages on Facebook and Linked In, on Twitter at @noccbl, or on Medium.
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