When Michael Bay left the stage at a Samsung press event in Las Vegas Monday, it instantly became the biggest headline to come out of the massive Consumer Electronics Show so far. The director of Transformers and other Hollywood blockbusters was trying to engage with a Samsung executive to promote the company’s new 150-inch curved television. The episode set the social media world buzzing and raises some key questions for communicators.
When Bay took the stage, the teleprompter malfunctioned—either that or he just got out of sync. “The type is all off, sorry, but I’ll just wing this,” Bay said as he tried to recover. “We’ll wing it right now.” He started to describe how how he “tries to take people on an emotional ride” with his movies, but then apologized and abruptly left the stage.
In a blog post Bay tried to explain: “Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES—I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down—then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”
And there's the challenge for communicators. Bay seems like the perfect pitchman for the Samsung product, which appears designed for his type of movie. But communicators need to have a sharp antenna when they select speakers, hosts, guests, endorsers and other representatives—and they especially need to be careful selecting and prepping people when live events are involved. In this case, something broke down.
PR pros need speakers who are loose and likable and don't get thrown off (or walk off) when something goes wrong. The Bay episode certainly speaks to the perpetual need for media training. And maybe even more elementary than that, how about a rehearsal?
Maybe there was one, we don't know for sure. But consider these four takeaways, courtesy of Forbes Magazine:
- Laugh and face it.
- Embrace improv.
- Present your passion (Bay did start off trying to do that).
- Always thank the audience.
And in the end, if you're a glass-half-full type of person, think of all the attention Samsung is getting thanks to Michael Bay's meltdown at CES.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1