What Would Bill Do? Insights on the Week’s News from Media Coach Bill McGowan


Readers may recall that, back in April, we had a couple of very informative conversations with author and Clarity Media Group founder Bill McGowan, perhaps best known as the media coach for top executives at Facebook, NBCUniversal and Airbnb.

In what will become a regular feature on the blog, Bill gave us his take on three recent controversies that made headlines this week — and the communications strategies behind them.

Think of it as a “comms week in review.”

1. While addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Monday on the threats posed by ISIS and Iran, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose a topical simile that raised eyebrows, inspired applause, and appeared in headlines across all media outlets. Bill says:

“The analogy Benjamin Netanyahu used to bold and underline his insistence that we not trust Iran transformed his talking point into the sound bite everyone used: ‘Iran claiming they don’t engage in terrorism is like Derek Jeter claiming he never played shortstop for The New York Yankees.'”

2. After reports on the man who jumped the White House fence with a knife contradicted earlier claims that he had only managed to enter the building’s front lobby, Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned. But she didn’t do it before suffering through a brutal House committee interrogation and a series of related op-eds. Unfortunately, Pierson failed in her attempt to rejuvenate the SS’s damaged reputation.

Bill says:

“Ex-Secret Service director Julia Pierson’s acceptance of responsibility for the White House intruder was more of a self-inflicted paper cut than a falling on her sword – probably because she devoted all of 10 seconds to the explanation of how the intruder gained access and got so far into the building.”

3. Yesterday, JP Morgan Chase announced that it had suffered a data breach big enough to affect 76 million households. This one could be bigger than Target or Home Depot — and reports also told us that the company learned about the breach almost two months ago and only revealed it to the public through a securities filing. Bill says:

“J.P. Morgan Chase coming clean on the full extent of their massive security break in a low-visibility securities filing months after the fact is like letting your parents find out that you flunked out of school in the fall by not bringing home a diploma in the spring.”

What do we think, readers? Do we agree with Bill McGowan’s takes on the week’s big comms stories?

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: October 3, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/what-would-bill-do-insights-on-the-weeks-news-from-media-coach-bill-mcgowan/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT