Online gossip forums could have been all over New Zealand singing sensation Lorde today.
Instead, they're cavorting all over the reputation of an Australian radio shock jock who hinted to Lorde her relationship with country superstar Taylor Swift might be sapphic.
Lorde wanted nothing to do with The Kyle and Jackie Show DJ's inane questioning (although it was hardly surprising, considering the source). She neither deflected nor changed the topic, as most lame media-relations consultants would advise. She shot back in an intelligent, non-snarky fashion that indirectly impugned the guy's credibility.
Read the whole exchange here, courtesy of a brilliantly worded Jezebel piece.
Or enjoy a sampling here:
"I see your guys' pictures everywhere. As you guys, like together now? Not together as in lesbians...I'm not talking about 'Ellen together.' I'm talking about, like, you guys are friendly, right?"
"What do you mean you're not talking about 'Ellen together?' Is there something wrong with lesbians? Is that what you're trying to say?"
In media relations, it's all about protecting the brand. Carefully choosing your words to answer a reporter's questions the right way, the brand way. Refusing to rise to the bait while making your own salient point.
Lorde certainly protected her brand, which is herself. But she refused to pander or get caught up in the eclectic studio moment. Instead, she stood her ground and answered the question sagely. Calmly. Directly.
PR experts talk about the chatter and clutter in today's "24/7 media environment." A lot of that chatter comes from corporate executives and first-responder minions taught - at a lot of expense - how to choose their words carefully and answer the 'company way.' Small wonder most employees thrown to media wolves are terrified by the possibility their responses will reverberate in company headquarters.
Too bad there's no room for intelligence in media-training programs. Lorde's celebrated but widely respected in today's news for standing her ground in a most-credible fashion.
Sometimes it's difficult to predict who will actually perform with grace under the withering fire of a media barrage. Chances are good, though, if you rely on employees who aren't yes-people, people with a little gravitas, those with steady intelligence like Lorde's you will pull through just fine. Especially if you don't terrorize them with the 'right' way to answer questions. Let common sense prevail.
Don't scatter media-relations types to the wind in a crisis. Find the field personnel and frontline managers who won't wither because innately, they command respect from reporters.
No wonder the so-called Swifty likes her new friend. Lorde's a reliable and credible source who can't be flustered. At age 17.