Great moments in public relations

A city official in the town of Cranston, RI thought that she needed an elderly lady as a prop when she gave a press conference at a senior center. You would think that a senior center would have no shortage of such people. But for some reason, there was no one of that description either available or willing. Undeterred, she persuaded a male employee of the center, a bus driver, to don a wig, ear rings, pink lipstick and play the role.

The city official has since resigned under pressure.

I will never understand why people do such silly things. A simple cost-benefit analysis would show that the upside is small while the downside is huge. I also think that while it is perfectly appropriate to laugh at such antics, and the person responsible for this debacle should be reprimanded, it does not rise to the level of a firing offense.


  1. Mano Singham says

    I generally don’t like firing people except for very serious reasons. It can ruin people’s lives and those of their families.

    This seems to me like one of those spur-of-the-moment things that seem like a good idea at the time and then later you think, “How could I have been so stupid?”

  2. Holms says

    There is certainly plenty of stupidity there, but the stunt caused no harm and the wording of the story suggests that the man was asked rather than coerced.

  3. Justin W says

    As a resident of the state of Rhode Island, this kind of nonsense disappoints me and pisses me off, but doesn’t surprise me one damn bit. If it weren’t for Texas and South Carolina, we’d be able to say we have the dumbest politicians in all the land

  4. moarscienceplz says

    At the risk of exposing my aged decrepitude and my naivete to the entire planet, this reminds me of an episode of The Brady Bunch (not, I am eager to add, my favorite TV show, but I did watch it first-run):
    Greg Brady has just bought his first car (without asking his dad’s opinion -- note that), and it turns out to be a lemon. When he admits his folly to dear old Daddykins, Brady pere introduces him (and me) to the hoary old Latin phrase caveat emptor (buyer beware).
    Greg has an “ah hah!” moment, then attempts to pass on said lemon to the next schmo he can find. Dad says, “Uh uh uhh!” to Brady fils, who says, “Sauce for the goose, Daddy-oh”, whereupon Brady pere says, “O ho ho! A goody-two-shoes, such as I have raised you to be, must not lie to your “mark”, *cough*, that is, I mean to say “buyer”, even if you have been lied to by another!”
    Greg then realizes his old man is a Victorian weirdo, but he cannot do anything about it because for some reason three TV cameras are always filming every aspect of his life. The End.

    Sue Stenhouse has, as have we all, seen many an instance of somebody shoveling BS on the TeeVee, so she has come to the conclusion that that is S.O.P. when dealing with the press. Which is not an unreasonable thing for a bear of very little brain to conclude. However, the Press, and We The People, like to pretend that the Fourth Estate exists to deliver unvarnished Truth to the proletariat (AH HAH HAH HAH! -- sorry, sometimes I crack myself up.), so we get all indignant and offended when a noob tries to foist such a transparent and blatant lie upon us.
    I am sorry she has to lose her job over this, but for America to forgive her requires all of us to acknowledge that we accept lies from the Mass Media all the time, and we are not mature enough to do that.

  5. lorn says

    I’ve seen something vaguely familiar with an official with limited PR experience, wishing to put on a good show, they rehearsed the assembly and presentation with stand-ins for some of the honored guests. They didn’t go so far as a wig and ear rings but simply had name tags.

    Is there any chance that this was a dress rehearsal that the media thought was the real thing? There may also have been concerns about getting a real senior out in the cold. I would have thought an administrator from the senior center could stand in and express gratitude but that is hindsight.

    Either way, I don’t see as it is a big problem. No laws were broken that I know about. Other than, assuming it was not a rehearsal that was presented as the real thing, showing a lack of judgment, and that there is a bus driver that can rock a pair of ear rings, I don’t see this as a big issue. It isn’t like anyone was making a huge profit off high school kids shoveling snow at a senior center.

    It is something of an embarrassment, but it also has an aftertaste of cheap ‘gotcha’ journalism.

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