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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Verbal Gaffes

Verbal gaffes can sink your efforts like a lead balloon.  There’s nothing that spells ‘ineptitude’ like misspeak, factually or politically incorrect statements, or as President Barack Obama and French President Nikolas Sarkozy experienced this week – getting caught making disconcerting remarks on a live microphone.   It can take what feels like eons to construct a profitable career and mere seconds to tear it all down.  In the instantaneous information age, maintaining composure and putting your best face forward at all times is paramount.

It seems like yesterday when the world was enthralled with the prospect of a telephone you could take with you, let alone the idea that a phone would contain a camera where photos could be captured and immediately shared via text message and across social media platforms.  These innovations immediately transformed the way we interact, but also allowed for our ‘lesser’ moments to be recorded and distributed in seconds.  The days of the incognito gaffe are over: everything you say and do has the propensity to end up online and potentially ruin you.  Tread lightly.

Rick Perry experienced one of these ‘oops’ moments two days ago during the Republican debates, confusing his own policies and fumbling over his words.  In many pundits’ eyes, this colossal episode of ‘verbal 52 card pick up’ spelled the end of Perry’s nomination run, regardless of any political damage control conducted after the fact.  The video went viral on YouTube and Facebook, generating thousands of hits in a matter of minutes.  Suffice to say; at this point Perry’s political aspirations now look more like the Hindenburg than a viable campaign.

It should go without saying that you should always strive to be on point and maintain your message, but sometimes in an effort to show candor or a moment of confusion, verbal gaffes may occur.  The key is to minimize them and the subsequent fallout which may occur and tarnish what you’ve painstakingly built.  Your name, your brand and your livelihood depend on it.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

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