Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Media Relations "UnAward"
To Philadelphia's Homicide Division

Today's media relations “UnAward” goes to a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Homicide Division captain who should have stuck to the facts or allowed one of his department PIOs (Public Information Officers) to satisfy local media after a Super Bowl Sunday night accidental shooting death.

In the incident, the 27-year-old son of a Philadelphia police officer was shot in the back and killed while watching the football game with approximately eight others in his basement.  A neighbor, later charged with murder, apparently picked up a Glock 9mm semi-automatic service weapon, without an external safety, that another partygoer -- an off-duty officer from another department -- left on a coffee table.  While “toying around with the gun,” the captain told The Philadelphia Inquirer, the weapon discharged and the 27-year-old was killed.

So far, so good.

But an UnAward is required (watch local TV) for creating a sound bite that makes no sense, but which the media (obviously) loved. 

While one or two cameras rolled outside the “Roundhouse” police headquarters the captain said, "It's a total tragedy that something like this would happen, you know, during a festive time as the Super Bowl."

Does this mean if the killing only occurred during the week we'd understand?  It's a tragedy any day of the year. “Festive?”  Is the Super Bowl like the Fourth of July, New Year's Eve or Cinco de Mayo?

If the Department only had issued a brief news release (Check their Press Room.  I could not find one.) someone could have read it, verbatim, for the reporters.  And I'm inclined to believe that festivity would not have been in the handout.

Citations from the PRforLAW, LLC RPC (Rules of Press Conduct)

1.3: A camera, a reporter, or microphone in proximity is not a grand jury, to which  one must speak .
2.2: A printed news release, publicly posted, is always the most reliable, official method of imparting information to the public. 

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