the media is always listeningI was in a meeting this week preparing for some media training seminars we’ll be conducting for a large corporation next week when the subject of not letting your guard down around media came up.  One of the executives in our meeting correctly suggested you should always watch what you say when a reporter is in the room.

To which I added, “In today’s high-tech world, there is ALWAYS a reporter in the room.”

Minutes later came Exhibit A-Mitt Romney’s secretly taped presentation in which he said 47% of Americans will vote for President Obama because they are “dependent upon government.”

Commence media storm in 3…2…1…

Romney says his comments were “off the cuff” and not “elegantly stated”.   President Obama’s campaign countered Romney’s understatement with the requisite hyperbole, calling Romney’s surreptitiously recorded statement “shocking”.

Expect more of the same in the coming days. Meantime, there is a great lesson to learn from this.

If you are in a public setting, you should always stay on message, just as you would if you were being interviewed by a reporter holding a microphone.   And by “public setting”, I mean any room in which there are people who you would not trust with the PIN number to your bank account.

The only thing more ubiquitous than people with agendas is people with cell phones equipped with cameras and instant access to the world.  Whether you’re running for President of the United States or simply trying to sell more pizzas in your city, always assume that anything you say (or post) in “public” could be made available to thousands of people with the simple press of a “send” button.

Know your message and stay on message.  Like it or hate it, the fact is, in today’s world, you’re almost always “on the record”.

Kendall Tenney is a four-time Emmy-Award winning journalist who now runs 10e Media, a full service marketing and public relations firm specializing in media training.