If history is any indication, it’s that special time of year again when we, as a society, take some snarky PR gal down a peg.
In case you missed it, over the Thanksgiving holiday, a mini-controversy erupted when Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauton criticized the behavior of President Obama’s daughters during the turkey pardoning. And the story blew up. Why you would have thought this was the biggest story of the century! — a development that immediately reminded me of something that happened last year around Christmastime, when a PR executive named Justine Sacco fired off an ill-advised tweet before hopping a flight to South Africa.
Why the comparison? Both were ladies, for what that’s worth — and both ironically worked in a public relations capacity. Both ignited firestorms when their comments on social media platforms got picked up by new media outlets, and quickly went viral. Despite the fact that both were forced to apologize, both lost their jobs.
And, perhaps most interestingly, both incidents happened around the holidays.
This could mean a couple of things. First, it might mean that public relations folks had better lay off the eggnog around holiday time?
Maybe there’s something about the prospect of taking a few days off from work that is seductively liberating for those unfortunate people who spend their normal lives worrying about public perception. Maybe they have been suppressing the urge to say stupid or controversial things for too long — this itch that writers thankfully get paid to scratch much more frequently — that something horrible just comes tumbling out of their keyboards the moment they let their guards down?
Or could it be that we in the media, who are also celebrating the holidays, just happen to have the time and energy to help destroy these people on the internet. It’s better than paying attention to Uncle Bert’s ramblings around the Thanksgiving table, after all. It’s also better than having to cover depressing news about police shootings, and the like. We have the time and energy — and this is the kind of salacious and fun (for everyone other than these unfortunate ladies) story that feeds our cravings for gossip — just as we are going through Twitter withdrawal.
Could it be that we are ritualistically sacrificing these ladies to the gods? Two things could be a coincidence, but three makes a trend. Take it from me, you don’t want to be the one who makes this a pattern. With Christmas around the corner, you’d better watch out PR ladies…