How often should PR pros go ‘off the record’?

Laurie Goldberg, the top spokesperson at TLC, says almost nothing on the record—and she’s achieved amazing results. But is that approach a wise one?

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The story, titled “In Speaking For TLC, The Least Said Is Best,” highlighted Goldberg’s reluctance to speak on the record with reporters. For instance, regarding a controversy over the TLC show “All-American Muslim,” Times reporter Brian Stelter writes:

“Ms. Goldberg said almost nothing on the record about the controversy, lest she spur more coverage. But behind the scenes she was trying to influence reporters’ views of the mostly imaginary boycott.”

Typically, a spokesperson who refuses to comment is punished by the press. But Stelter concludes:

“Despite all its controversial shows, TLC’s brand has remained mostly unblemished these last few years. That may be in part because while Ms. Goldberg is genial and helpful with reporters off the record, she routinely doles out no-comments to them on the record, thereby refusing to make big stories bigger. She declined to be interviewed on the record for this story.”

My first reaction to reading about Goldberg’s approach was to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, it’s hard to argue with success, and if her tactics are working, who am I to criticize her unconventional approach?

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