Public Relations and #MeToo Revisited: The Morgan Spurlock Statement

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Well, as of this Saturday afternoon, there’s been no new reports of an elected official, celebrity, business executive or other man of note being charged by women with improprieties in the workplace.

Who knows what tomorrow (or later today) will bring in the seemingly unbridled and growing national movement identified as #MeToo.

Image courtesy of CNN.com.

Earlier this month I published a post seeking commentary from public relations professionals on strategies for counsel to clients who in confidence state that they are, indeed, guilty of sexual harassment of some kind.

One question I posed: Should this scenario unfold, would you advise the client to come forward as a way to mitigate the situation.  So far, I’ve not received any responses.  (Hey, this happens, but I’d welcome thoughts from the public relations community at any time on the #MeToo post and any PRDude post published over the past eight years.)

But on Thursday, a man well-known in the film making industry did announce in a statement from his production company that he was an abuser of women and a philanderer.

The man is Morgan Spurlock, noted for his documentaries like “Super Size Me” and even a reality television series, “Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man,” where he “tells compelling stories from an insider’s perspective.”

Mr. Spurlock’s statement is titled: “I am Part of the Problem,” and over 961 words he recounts quite a lot about a sexual encounter during his college years, verbal abuse to workers under his employment, his own childhood abuse, a life of alcohol abuse and more.  He tempers the narrative with statements of acknowledgement regarding his actions and recognition of sexual abuse against women as a pervasive national problem and embarrassment.

Six times during the statement he reiterates the message: “I am part of the problem.”

I won’t pass judgment on Mr. Spurlock’s decision in this space. But I will push out a few more questions to the public relations industry in regards to his action and statement.

  • If you were providing counsel to Mr. Spurlock, would you have advised him to come forward as he did?
  • Given his decision to make the announcement, would you have advised Mr. Spurlock to present the statement online (as he did) or at a live news conference?
  • What are your thoughts on the content, structure and tone of Mr. Spurlock’s statement?
  • What can Mr. Spurlock do to rebuild or resurrect his career now that he’s come forward?
  • Do you anticipate Mr. Spurlock’s action will prompt other men to come forward and confess past indiscretions?

One concluding thought: Further news regarding #MeToo allegations most assuredly will continue in the weeks and perhaps months to come. Ethical public relations practices should be at the forefront of the national conversation ahead.

 

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