Past Issue

The Flack for Friday, May 8, 2020…

By May 8, 2020November 6th, 2020No Comments

The Flack highlights changes and trends in the news, examples of communications practices, and content we at BYRNE PR thought you might find useful.

We hope you enjoy, and we always welcome your feedback.

Avoid Politics — Given the growing politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as states gradually begin to reopen, spokespeople should expect to be asked about decisions made by local, state and federal governments. And while it is reasonable for reporters to ask such questions, in most cases spokespeople should avoid endorsing or disagreeing with political decisions. Instead, they should address the question and bridge to the messages they need to deliver. Example: “Local and state governments are working hard to keep the public safe while finding ways to gradually restart our economy. At (insert company) our No. 1 priority is keeping our employees and customers safe, that’s why …”

Show Empathy — Given the impact the pandemic is having on the economy, interviews often start with very direct questions about business, employees, stock price, etc. Despite the reporter’s line of questioning, always make it a point to express empathy for those affected by COVID-19. This can be done at any point during an interview, but the beginning and end of the interview often present the best opportunities. Tyson CFO, Stewart Glendinning, does a nice job of this at the opening of his interview with CNBC.

Never Accept a False Premise — If a question contains a false premise, correct it before answering. Dr. Fauci did this nicely when he corrected Laura Ingraham’s question that equated COVID-19 to HIV.

Wear a Mask — We mentioned this last week, but it continues to be an issue. Earlier this week President Trump visited a Honeywell factory in Arizona where N95 masks are manufactured. Despite the policies at the factory, the president (and others) did not wear a mask. Because of that, the media coverage focused on him not wearing a mask rather than Honeywell’s production of the masks and how it may play a role in keeping frontline workers safe.

Expect a Delay — In most Skype/Facetime/Webex interviews, there is a slight audio/video-feed delay. This can cause spokespeople and reporters to speak over each other. The problem is exasperated when reporters conduct interviews with multiple spokespeople. To avoid this, listen to the reporter’s question and pause briefly before beginning your answer. This will help you avoid speaking over the reporter, and it will likely reduce filler language (an added bonus).

Wear Pants — Always wear pants. Good Morning America correspondent Will Reeve will likely not make this mistake again.

In uncertain times, clear and effective communication is critical for any organization.

Stay safe and informed.


Free and useful communication resources:

Cision: How to Inspire Your Teams During the COVID-19 Crisis

What’s New in the AP Stylebook




: one who provides publicity



: to act as a press agent or promoter for something

The word flack was first used as a noun meaning “publicity agent” during the late 1930s. According to one rumor, the word was coined in tribute to a well-known movie publicist of the time, Gene Flack.