How to talk about #metoo

The testimony this week will again remind us of the #MeToo moment we’re living in. It’s tragic, it’s pervasive, and the way we communicate about it will have consequences. It seems obvious that you want to speak carefully and factually whenever you’re asked about sexual harassment claims, but HOW and WHEN you say what you say matters.

Step 1: Don’t do this.

Step 2: Consider this approach instead.

  • Don’t pretend to know the facts.
  • Reiterate that it’s important to know the truth before making a judgment.
  • If a claim seems politically motivated, focus on the process rather than the victim’s authority.

Here’s an example of how you can navigate a reporter’s question about sexual harassment claims you know nothing (or very little) about:

Q: Who do you think is telling the truth?

A: These are serious allegations, and it’s irresponsible to make a judgment before we know all the facts. I hope, for the sake of both parties involved, that the facts come out soon.

B²: “Are you lying?”

When you hear “honesty,” “truth,” “transparency,” it’s doubtful you think of Hillary Clinton. Especially after that recent CBS interview.

Her less-than-great response to Scott Pelley’s truth-telling question played into the hands of the voters who desire honesty…and don’t believe Hillary is – 56% of respondents in a recent YouGov poll said they don’t believe Hillary is honest or trustworthy.

While DMG has strict standards of only working with people who do tell the truth, we understand that some issues are sensitive and can’t be fully discussed in the media. The need to remain confidential can lead to objectionable questions that are hard to navigate and easily put you in the position of making an uh-oh statement like, “I’m not lying.”

Do you know how to stick to your talking points, maintain confidentiality (if the situation demands it), and not be accused of lying?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Are you lying?”

: “Not at all. I’m being straight with the American people because it’s of utmost importance that <insert talking point>…”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t start by saying what you aren’t. Start with declarative statements about your honesty/transparency and then B² to the talking point that you wish to deliver.

The lying “gotcha” question can trip up even the most seasoned candidate resulting in a social media frenzy. Don’t let it happen to you!