Peter Shankman wrote what is sure to be a much-discussed, linked to, forwarded and debated piece for PR Week. One thing it should not be is questioned. He’s so correct.
We are no longer one person “at work,” or, “on the job” and a different, separate, unaccountable one “at home,” or “in my private life.” You have no private life.
The corollary therefore becomes, a crisis in your private life becomes a crisis in your professional life. Look around. Ten or 20 years ago, a public transgression usually met with suspension with pay, or, no professional action pending the outcome of a criminal or civil case. Now most companies fire first and ask questions later. [See: Service, U.S. Secret]
In some extreme cases, this flows from the professional to the personal as well. Bernie Madoff didn’t have a lot of friends after his scheme collapsed. I suspect that a great many “friends” of disgraced GSA administrator Martha Johnson don’t return her calls any more.
Take presidents as the ultimate indicator of these changes. It’s fairly well-known and documented that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton did not have monogamous marriages. At the time “everyone” may have known or suspected that, but few made it public. [How quaintly ironic was the attention given to the now 70-something woman JFK seduced as an intern writing a book about her experiences 50 years ago?].
This is an admonition many parents make to their children. Scenes of inebriation, speeding, dangerous behavior and the rest — the whole Jackass-Hangover syndrome — have no place where anyone but you can find them. And this goes for parents too.
Shankman told you this. We’ve added our backing to the warning. You are where you work and work is who you are. Don’t forget it. A crisis is one place is a crisis in another.