The reason why I believe this event created a teachable moment in our line of work is the lesson about the significance of carefully delivering your message to the media at all times, no matter how small the media outlet or how insignificant you think the conversation might be in the grand scheme of things.
In a recent interview on the Gilmore Guys podcast leading up to the festival, Scott Patterson “Luke,” whose character I love, innocently mentioned that there have been some conversations when asked about the potential for a Gilmore Girls movie. With the reunion ahead, this allowed millions of fan hopefuls to believe there may actually be a movie in the works. In fact, I thought the festival might be the platform for an announcement. To be more specific, in the interview Scott said, “there are talks going on at the moment.” He later said, “I can’t really go into any details, but there is some activity. I’m hopeful, and I’m in. I think it would be a big event, and I think it would be a great fan celebration.”
All these things are true, lots of people are talking about a movie and there is activity. Unfortunately, as we found out Saturday those talks aren’t amongst the people that can make it happen nor is the activity coming from the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s pen. As he clarified at the reunion, when he sort of apologetically admitted that he got so many fans excited by one statement on a podcast that didn’t really have that much merit. It seemed as though there are always talks about a movie and he didn’t want to say there weren’t “people” talking about it. He followed up with his hopes for a movie himself by saying “It’s kinda time, don’t you think?” No hard feelings Scott, you’re just the example in today’s lesson on crafting an explicit message when it comes to dealing with the media.
More to the point, when it comes to media relations, you have to say what you mean and mean what you say, every, single time. Your words, when spoken to the media, live long after they’re said in an interview. They show up in print and/or broadcast, only moments before they are spread across social media platforms to be reposted time and time again. Most people know not to make “off the record” comments you’d rather not see printed, but sometimes you have to go a step further and say exactly what you mean so it doesn’t get misconstrued, even if it’s the truth. Just ask Luke’s on-screen love interest, Lorelei Gilmore, how she learned the hard way in season 5, episode 21 when referencing her mom, Emily Gilmore, in an interview not knowing those off-color remarks would be printed in a story about the Dragonfly Inn.
Here are a few articles highlighting my illustration from around the web. There are likely dozens more where these came from. Like I said, everyone seemed to be talking about this event.
Hinting at a Gilmore Girls Movie
The Truth Comes Out
Sadly, Amy Sherman-Palladino put the rumors to rest this weekend saying "I'm sorry, there's nothing in the works at the moment. But here's the good thing: Nobody here hates each other; that's a very important step. It would have to be the right everything. Right format, timing, budget. It would have to be honored in a certain way. If it ever came around, I think we would all jump in and do it." That’s when the entire cast nodded in agreement. As for the format, Amy Sherman-Palladino said she didn't know, "because it's not real,"but she promised that if it did, "we'll do it correctly."
Most of the time, when you say something you don’t mean and it gets relayed to an attentive audience it creates much more of a problem than a fun, fan frenzy. That’s why it’s important to get media training ahead of your interviews, to have talking points ready, to know what you need to emphasize and which details you need to share. It’s also important to anticipate questions you might be asked so you have an answer ready that’s not only is true, but is delivered with clarity. In short, our job is to handle the nuances of media relations, so you can do what you do best.
The lesson here is that fans, eager to hear what they want, were listening to Scott’s every word ahead of the reunion, and likely your loyal brand ambassadors, customers, clients, patients or fans are too. While a movie teaser sure drummed up some excitement (and nearly broke the internet), it could have easily been a PR stunt to increase the excitement and anticipation for the reunion. Most brands don’t get so lucky when saying statements in an interview that could be misleading, they get called out and penalized. So while this was all in good fun and, by my account, the only ones who got hurt were the fans that passed out from the Texas heat, in nearly every other instance it’s crucial to stick to the facts and hone in on the messaging that leads to clear conclusions in your media interviews.
(And yes, in case you’re wondering, it was thrilling for me to write a blog post on the Gilmore Girls and call it work!)