CBS Social Media Crisis Following Vegas Shooting

By Doug Weller

The CBS social media crisis following the tragic Vegas shooting highlights why social media protocols are so important for organisations.

Are there any words to describe the awful mass shooting in Las Vegas?

I was in Las Vegas only weeks before the incident, so to see what occurred there was surreal.

Image Source: NBC News

The headlines were hard to miss as the horrible tragedy unfolded.

Social media chatter intensified as people absorbed the news. Sadly, fake news stories about the shooting were also prominent online.

Social media is part of our lives and it’s an important communication tool if used correctly.

But inappropriate comments on social media, especially after a tragedy like Las Vegas, can damage an individual’s reputation and the organisation they work for.

Inappropriate comments can lead to social media storms that are sometimes hard or impossible to control.

Damage control

Viral PR disasters occur regularly on social media.

The shocking news quickly spread worldwide that thousands of people had been sprayed with bullets at a Las Vegas music festival, killing many and injuring hundreds.

In the immediate wake of the Las Vegas massacre, a high-ranking CBS employee made insensitive social media comments. Those comments left the media giant in damage control and the person unemployed.

Hayley Geftman-Gold worked as a vice president and senior legal counsel at CBS, New York. This was her Facebook post:

Image Source: @Breaking911

In response to the public outrage over the comments, CBS swiftly terminated her employment, stating:

“This individual, who was with us for approximately one year, violated the standards of our company and is no longer an employee of CBS,”…“Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the victims in Las Vegas and their families.”

Ms Geftman-Gold later issued her own personal apology:

Image Source: Mediaite

It’s amazing that a lawyer, working for one of the world’s largest broadcasters, wasn’t aware of the ramifications her social media comments would have.

Organisations need social media protocols

This incident highlights the need for businesses to have social media protocols in place and ensure all staff and contractors understand those protocols.

Social media is prolific and often the source of news stories. It’s here to stay.

Businesses must take social media communications seriously, especially when employees act contrary to corporate values.

Staff should be aware of their employer’s social media rules and they should also understand the consequences for online actions that threaten reputations.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about how Corporate Media Services’ training programs can help you make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information. Email your enquiry now to or call 1300 737 913



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Sir Joh

Answer the Question!

By Doug Weller

There have been some subtle changes in media message delivery over the years – subtle but important.

Back in the days of the former Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Sir Joh Mediathere were many media players who refused to answer the question, but Joh turned ignoring questions into an art form. Comedians got great mileage out of it, “Don’t you worry about that”.

Then, the easy way out of a tight spot during media interviews was often to ignore the questions and punch away at the key messages. In fact many people still think that is the way to go.

I was shocked when I was asked to speak to some media students about media communications.

During the intro the host said “Now Doug will tell you how to refuse to answer questions during media interviews”. I had to do some fancy footwork to make sure I didn’t embarrass the host because that is not the way to conduct media interviews.

Journalists, and in my view the community, are sick of people refusing to answer media interview questions. The ‘ignore the question’ days are over.

You need to be believable and convincing in media interviews – this means responding to journalist’s questions.

Yes, it’s absolutely crucial that you go into your media interviews with clear, concise, jargon free messages. But those messages need to be delivered credibly.

It’s easy to respond to questions and also go to your message.

At the end of the day journalists want to leave any discussion or interview with a clear understanding of what you’re saying about a particular issue.

Responding to journalists or commentators questions is absolutely crucial in live radio, or TV interviews.

In some cases interviewers will simply repeat the question if you refuse to answer it. I’ve heard entire interviews where the journalist asks the same question again and again because it hasn’t been answered.

This doesn’t reflect badly on the journalist, it reflects badly on the interviewee.

Politicians are under increasing pressure to get it right.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop, is normally an excellent media performer.

But when she was asked during a radio interview to explain the nuts and bolts of new ‘transition to retirement’ rules, she attempted to give a vague answer and return to her message – it didn’t work.

Image Source: 3AW693 News Talk

Image Source: 3AW693 News Talk

Sometimes it’s OK to ignore the odd question and go straight to the message, especially in a heated interview. But not during an election campaign and not when you’ve upset the hell out of a stack of retirees.

Politicians, or anyone for that matter, need to be very good at explaining the detail when they’ve delivered painful change.

If you’re in the head space of ‘don’t answer the question, just deliver the message’, stop it. Those days are gone.

The other lesson from the Bishop interview is that giving vague answers and then going to the message no longer cut it, especially with interviewers like Neil Mitchell.

If you want to be credible in the media, send a clear message to journalists and audiences that you are willing to answer questions put to you.

Always deliver appropriate messages that are of value to you and that answer the question.

 Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913