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Maybe you’re NOT paranoid. Maybe everyone really IS out to get you! It’s easy to feel that way these days. There are cameras and recording devices everywhere.

It serves as a great reminder that everyone … you, the people who work for you, anyone at anytime can be captured at their worst. For the purposes of this Monthly Memo remember whether you are in front of an audience or a media microphone, you are always “on.” I say those words nearly every time I work with a client because it’s amazing how many times people will say, “Gee, I never would have said that if I knew the microphone was on!” How about not saying it at all and avoid the problem altogether?

Here are some examples of how things have changed, making this lesson even more important.

An experienced PR executive I know had the surprise of his life recently. He had done a pretty standard interview for a local news reporter and was shocked to learn the ENTIRE interview was available for all to see on the television station’s web site. Everything. From the moment of the first question all the way through to the end.

Any spokesperson knows those interviews can go in a lot of different directions, from the mundane presentation of facts to tense exchanges about how a question is worded to a shared laugh about the latest gossip. Wow, would you want ALL of that out there for all to see? These days that’s exactly what can happen and everyone who has any contact with the media needs to be very aware of the changing rules.

What about public speakers? Ask comedian Michael Richards how his career is doing since his rant was captured on a cell phone camera. More than a few political figures have been caught on open microphones whispering secret little asides from the podium. (Remember Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s comments about Homeland Security nominee Janet Napolitano?) You’re always on!

Okay, let’s say you avoid microphones all together. Problem solved, right? No. Newspapers are now putting the entire transcript of interviews and speeches on web sites as well. “I was just kidding,” won’t work anymore. You’re always on!

Do you talk on the phone? E-mail? Shoot-the-bull in line at the grocery store while wearing a shirt with your employer’s logo on it? You’re always on!

Ultimately it’s not about being paranoid. For you and everyone around you it is about being a professional adult, and the more everyone understands that the better off we all will be. Remember, you’re always on!

Thanks for all of the great feedback from our last Monthly Memo about struggling with “Ugh, Uhm and You Know.” It really struck a cord. Let us know if there are other topics you’d like to see explored in the Monthly Memo.