If you want to control your media message, giving a planned, sustained argument in the form of a speech is potentially the best way to do so. Monica Lewinsky gave a TED Talk speech earlier this week on the topic of shame and cyber bullying. And she has received fantastic reviews as well as standing ovations. Simply sitting down for another Barbara Walters interview wouldn’t have done that.
While TED speeches are usually 18 minutes or less, that’s still an eternity compared to an 8 second sound bite or even a three minute interview on the “Today” Show. Part of what giving a speech like this does is force people to pay attention to a sustained idea you have, and not get side-tracked by silly, unplanned sound bites that might have come out during an interview.
I don’t have any strong viewpoint on Lewinsky, positive or negative, but she certainly appears to be trying to create something meaningful in her life and to grow from her experiences. The speech won’t exactly rehabilitate her career to the point where she could run for public office, though I doubt that was her goal. But a speech like this can be a useful way for someone who has been disgraced to ease back into public life, and to use that infamy, as a ticket to talking about other important subjects and not just the scandal that brought them into the public square in the first place.
Will Lewinsky follow up her speech with books, paid lectures, and scores of high profile interviews in the coming months and years? I have no idea. But at least she has positioned herself to do so at the moment, and that’s better than just being a punch line.
TJ Walker is a crisis communications counselor who advise clients on media strategy. You can reach him at Media Training Worldwide 212.764.4955.