If you haven’t heard about ESPN’s Britt McHenry and her rant towards an employee at Advanced Towing, I count you as lucky. I, first, saw it on Twitter Thursday night, but scrolled right over because, after working in news for the last three years or so, I am not surprised at media personalities ruining their reputation because of a viral video or photograph.
But I saw it again on The Today Show and THIS time? My children were in the room. Ouch. The words that came out of her mouth to the employee made my heart sink. Do people REALLY talk to other human beings this way? Is there THAT much hatred in her heart to ACTUALLY speak to someone like this? If I was ESPN, is THIS the type of person I want representing MY brand, MY company, and MY reputation? After hearing my 8-yr-old say, “Mom, she’s mean. Does the news station she works for know she’s this mean? I hope they find out because that’s not right.”
Hey Britt. Even my 8-yr-old knows any decent human being doesn’t treat other people this way. Ever.
You might be thinking I’m being a little too harsh on Britt McHenry. It’s possible. Watch the report on the Today Show and you tell me:
Here’s what others are saying on Twitter about the situation. Some say Advanced Towing’s tactics are unethical and Britt’s rant may have been warranted.
We've seen Advanced Towing's Tactics for years. Not "doing their jobs" they are boosting other people's property for profit. @BrittMcHenry
— Social N San Antonio (@SocInSA) April 17, 2015
Oh, HOLD UP. The Britt McHenry vid is w predatory Advanced Towing?! I have experience w them & guarantee she had reason to be pissed.
— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) April 17, 2015
Is it a “parenting” issue? Was she raised in a household that condones and promotes this type of behavior? It’s got a lot of us parents concerned and definitely talking about it.
I had no idea who Britt McHenry was before but I now I know she's the kind of woman I hope I've taught my daughters not to be.
— Shannon (@suburbanlemon) April 17, 2015
Mamas, don't let your daughters grow up to be Britt McHenry. Teach them to respect hard work and integrity. Teach them to be humble.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) April 16, 2015
— Dakota Huseby (@DakotaHuseby) April 17, 2015
Even media personalities are weighing in with their thoughts of disgust:
— Erin Nicole (@ENicole19) April 17, 2015
— Alex Hoffman KETV (@hoffman_alex) April 17, 2015
Some are on Britt’s side (Okay I didn’t find many):
— Nick Lopus (@NJLopus) April 17, 2015
Here’s my point:
I don’t often jump on the bandwagon of trending news, but this one really got under my skin for the obvious reason, but also because of the frustration I felt when I worked in news. Some news reporters/anchors didn’t understand the correlation between their personal life and how it reflects the VERY PUBLIC life they chose to lead in the news industry. They go hand in hand and anyone who thinks they don’t? You’re just fooling yourself.
So, what am I teaching my kids about it?
I approach public behavior and social media as one in the same. As a social media consultant I often teach my clients the same things I teach my children.
1. What you do publicly online or in real life is going to shape the opinion others have of you.
2. Protect your online reputation as you would your personal reputation. They are both the same.
3. Don’t ever say anything out loud or online that you wouldn’t say in front of a large audience.
4. Pictures and videos are forever… no matter how much you trust SnapChat or your friends to be discreet.
5. Be kind. Online and off.
6. Cyberbullying does exist and bullies are real. Don’t be one of them.
7. You must live with the consequences of mistakes you make online as you would in real life.
8. When you make a mistake online, own up to it and make it right.
9. Stand up for what you believe in and use your voice for change.
10. Understand that your digital footprint will follow you through middle school, high school, college, and when you’re applying for your next job.
I didn’t want to have to talk about Britt McHenry’s rant to my children, but I’m using this as a teaching tool for, not only my kids, but for the businesses I work with on social strategy. As a news reporter, teacher, CEO, and even a small business owner, YOUR public actions online or in person will impact your career/business. I read a tweet from someone saying, “Well, she is just expressing free speech. She has the right to say whatever she wants.”
To him or other people who think that, you ARE correct. She DOES have the right to free speech. Yes. But when she chose to be a public figure that represents one of the biggest sports networks in the world, that right is limited. Her behavior MUST reflect the integrity of the company at ALL times.
Plus. Her words were just plain hateful. There’s no room for hate in my life.
There shouldn’t be room for hate at ESPN.
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