Lessons Every PR Professional Should Learn From Josh Shaw

By Cheval John

On Monday, the University of Southern California (USC) released to the public about how Josh Shaw broke his ankle trying to save his 7 year old nephew.

Everyone was hailing Mr. Shaw as a hero because of his bravery and the feel good narrative of a player risking his life to save another.

Immediately, there were contradicting reports about how Mr. Shaw broke his ankle.

Many were hoping that those reports were false and that Mr. Shaw was telling the truth.

Unfortunately, everyone hopes were dashed away as Mr. Shaw said to the athletic department at USC that he lied about the whole thing.

Now, Mr. Shaw is suspended indefinitely from the team and it’s likely that he will not be able to play football again.

What’s worse is that Mr. Shaw has sullied the reputation of the football program and the school.

Here are three lessons public relations professionals can take away from this debacle:

1. You Must Do Your Research

The spokesperson/s for USC did not do their due diligence in investigating Mr. Shaw’s story of how he broke his ankle.

Instead, they took his word for it and released Mr. Shaw’s accounts to the public.

If you are going to release a story that will bring attention to your client/s, you better be sure that it is accurate.

2. Always Follow Your Instincts

USC’s first-year head football coach Steve Sarkisian said to reporters, “They was no reason to doubt his story because he was a model citizen.” Quote Paraphrased.

It is probably safe to assume that they got the information about Mr. Shaw from the coach himself.

If your instinct is telling you that something is fishy, you should always listen to it because 9 times out of 10, your instinct is always correct.

3. You Must Go Into Journalism Mode

The spokesperson/s of USC did not put on their journalism hat and interviewed others who were there at the scene to find out if Mr. Shaw’s story of saving his nephew was true.

Because of that massive failure, they are now in damage control to try to repair the image of their school.

In this day and age, the lines are blurred between public relations and journalism.

If a person works in public relations, they must switch to journalism mode when the situation calls for it because if someone comes to them with a feel good story and they do not go into journalism mode, the reputation of their clients and even their own will be ruined for a long time.

About Cheval John

Cheval John is the Founder and CEO of Vallano Media, LLC, a marketing agency which helps small to mid-sized businesses use social media correctly to build a loyal following and in the process become more profitable. Cheval is also the host of "What's The Word?" a podcast about finding out what inspires people to choose their respective careers and how social media impacted their lives and business. He is the author of two books including the Amazon Best-Seller, "8 Lessons Every Podcaster Needs To Learn." He has spoken at Social Media Week Lima in Ohio and at Social Media Day Houston 2017 about topics around live streaming and podcasting. Cheval has been featured in media outlets like Ebony Magazine and was named a Houston Top 25 Social Media Power Influencer in 2016 and 2017.

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