The “face” of the mine disaster

August 10, 2007

The mine collapse in Utah is perfect stuff for cable news. There’s the drama of following how close the shaft they are drilling is getting to the workers and the opportunity to break in with breaking news every time there is the slightest new development. As a result, the president of the company is getting lots of face time on cable news. In fact, several times last night Soledad O’Brien commented on Bob Murray, I believe, putting a face on this event. I will admit, on first glance, not being too impressed with the “face” they were putting on this event. But I have changed my tune. Mr. Murray, while admittedly not photogenic and obviously tired, in my view is a very impressive spokesperson for the company. He is the president and that is critically important. The company is not running and hiding from the scrutiny and the obvious circus environment this entertainment-based opportunity provides the cable news providers. He is almost ubiquitous. He provides details that are relevant and bordering on the too technical because it is clear he is a mining guy and knows what it is to be in the trenches, or shafts. He is sad and sober, empathetic with the families. His care worn appearance is appropriate when he talks about being at it for four days straight, we believe him. He has obvious patience with the media and their questions and expresses it.

So, for all of us media trainers who want to put a pretty face on such an event, there is a lesson here. Good job, Mr. Murray. You are earning your pay in these troubled days.


One Response to “The “face” of the mine disaster”

  1. Rich Klein Says:

    While it’s usually smart to put the CEO in front of the media during a serious crisis, I disagree with your assessment of Bob Murray. In fact, he has used these press briefings to attack the media, to attack labor unions, to make up scenarios about seismic activity, and finally making insensitive remarks about the fate of the victims. And now that the rescue operation has resulted in more loss of life, Bob Murray is less visible. Frankly, he has shown himself to be more concerned about his own butt than the lives of the miners.

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