The entire Ferguson situation, while extremely polarizing on a social, political and emotional level, taught an important lesson about the value of public relations. Getting in front of an issue, speaking to the public and ensuring your side of the story is told is key to mitigating any reputation damage. In a recent Forbes article, Fraser Seitel wrote about Officer Darren Wilson’s public relations victory in granting an interview following the Ferguson decision.

Even though it is almost certain that his attorneys advised him to stay below the radar—he hadn’t been out in the public eye since the shooting happened in August—sitting down with George Stephanopoulos the day after the grand jury decision surely helped his image. He discussed why the grand jury was right, who he is as a person and added a personal feel to his side of the story. Prior to this, the only personal aspect of the Ferguson situation was that of Michael Brown and his family. Images of Michael as a child were all over the media, and painting a clear image of a family broken by Michael’s death.

Now, no matter what you think about the grand jury decision, there certainly is a face and an emotional appeal to each party in the situation. Who knew Darren Wilson was going to be a father before he took the interview?

The public relations gain for Darren Wilson through this interview far outweighed any potential negative impact it might have on future investigations. In this case, it was a true PR victory. You can read the full article here.

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