Three years ago, Adam Smith was a $200,000 a year CFO of a medical devices company. But then, a video of him chastising a low-paid Chick-fil-a worker for working at an anti-gay company was uploaded to YouTube. 24 hours later, Smith was out of a Job. Three years later, Smith is still unemployed and living on food stamps.
But here is the twist: Smith was the one who uploaded the video of himself. It wasn’t some secret tape put up by enemies.
Smith has apparently so outraged Chick-fil-a supporters that some have made it their life’s mission to see that Smith never be gainfully employed again. And so far, they have been successful.
What is the PR/Media training moral here?
Yes, if you live in America, you have a First Amendment right to say or publish whatever you believe. But your enemies also have the same right and that right can extend to calling your employers and prospective employers and demanding that you be fired (or not hired).
I’m not suggesting that everyone be cowardly and refrain from ever speaking out on issues you deem to be of great moral importance. But you need to be aware of the consequences.
Pre-internet, you could bloviate on anything you want at a backyard barbeque or with likeminded friends over a beer or even at the office with little potential downside. But these days, anything you say in a digital environment can be seen instantly by millions of people who may disagree with you stridently and may want to cause you harm.
My advice: learn how and where and when to make your comments and make sure you are willing to pay the consequences.
TJ Walker is founder of Media Training Worldwide. 212.764.4955