Monday, January 28, 2008

Mourning the passing of a great PR professional

Last night I got word that Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints passed away. I am deeply saddened by this news as President Hinckley is the LDS Church president (also a prophet) I am most familiar with. Beyond my love and respect for him as the leader of my church, the LDS Church, I also wish to express my respect and admiration for him as a great example of a highly effective public relations practitioner.

President Hinckley spent nearly his entire professional career working for the Church. In the mid-1930s he was assigned to organize what is now the Church's Public Affairs Department. An article on the Church's Newsroom also notes that "for 20 years he directed all Church public communications."
His experience in PR prepared him for the various interactions he would have with the mainstream media during his time as President of the Church. Two days after he was named President, he called a press conference in Salt Lake City and fielded questions from journalists. remarked that this was the first time a Church president had done something like that in 20 years.
His interaction with the media did not stop with this press conference. In 1995 he sat down for two interviews with the intimidating, Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. These two interviews showed just how adept President Hinckley was at dealing with the media. NPR did a story on President Hinckley's passing today, and quoted Mike Wallace:

It was Hinckley's "candor," Wallace told NPR, "his willingness to entertain any question, no matter how difficult or, perhaps embarrassing," that charmed Wallace.
"He was just absolutely open with me," Wallace said. "It became quite clear that there was a great deal in the Mormon religion that I genuinely admired."

President Hinckley was also featured numerous times on Larry King Live, and demonstrated his public relations skills while fielding some tough questions from a hardened reporter.

Farewell, President Hinckely. Thanks for everything you taught me, both in word and by example. You will be missed. I hope to be half the PR professional you were.

Mainstream media reporting on President Hinckley's death:

No comments: