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Remember One Phrase to Avoid Viral Embarrassment

There’s one phrase I’ve used probably a thousand times in media training, crisis presentations and public relations work over 20 years. It helps people avoid embarrassment and ridicule. Some things we say become less true as technology evolves. This one phrase has become more relevant every day: “The camera is always on.”

Originally, I was talking about TV interviews, or public appearances.  I was warning clients that if there is a camera anywhere nearby, you have to assume that it is on and it is focused on you.  The same is true of microphones.

What has changed is that now I say you should assume the camera is on you at all times.  And you have to decide whether what you are doing and what you are saying is appropriate to be broadcast. I mean, do you want everyone to see you do this?

This is because today cameras are literally everywhere. Nearly everyone has a camera on their cell phone and every building seems to have them inside and out. Technology has created cameras that fit into pens and smaller objects.  If some people get their way, soon drones will carry cameras over your home.

For news and social media purposes, this means you shouldn’t say it, or show it, unless you're OK with that going viral around the world on TV and YouTube.

So, just remember, and I think you will, the camera is always on.

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