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Blown PR Opportunities

In the annals of bizarre interviews, there must be few stranger than the latest Billy Bob Thornton piece on the CBC.  Billy Bob is currently touring with his band, the Boxmasters, as the opening act for Willy Nelson.  It’s a promotional gig for their new disk.

CBC interviewer Jian Gomeshi had Billy Bob and the band in the studio, and made the mistake of mentioning Billy Bob’s acting career in his opening comments. What followed was painful, bizarre, and sometimes comical.

It’s not until the 10 minute mark that Gomeshi mollifies Thornton, and they get on track to talk about the music.

So what was accomplished?  Nothing, really.  Nobody wrote about the Boxmasters music.  The headlines were all about Billy Bob’s behaviour.

One of the first things you learn in public relations training is how to deflect a question.  Billy Bob should have focused on getting the message about the band out.  Two appropriate responses to Gomeshi’s context setting might have been to:

  • ignore it altogether and focus on the music.
  • acknowledge it with “Yes, I’ve had a very successful career in film, and now I’m really happy to be working on another of my passions, music.  Let me tell you about…”

The next time you’re confronted with a question you don’t want to answer in an interview, remember Billy Bob’s example, and be prepared with a few deflective responses to get the interview back on track.

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Greg April 9, 2009, 6:37 am

    I mean, Jian made it pretty clear in the context statement that Billy Bob is quite serious about music and has it as a priority. For Billy Bob to act weird after that is ridiculous. Legendary blown PR indeed!

  • db cooper April 9, 2009, 7:02 am

    what a real tool BBT is… he total screwed his band over with that BS.. he will be the loser for that one. way to go..

    for the record, IMO he wasn't that great as an actor either.

  • Alec April 9, 2009, 7:19 am

    I had a lot of sympathy for the band as I watched this. They had to be just horrified.

  • Gillian April 9, 2009, 8:03 am

    I have to say, sometimes I think people behave this way, because they know they will get more attention (CNN, Youtube, etc etc), even if it is not attention for the right thing.

    As Jian mentioned, even before these antics, the band has been getting more attention that most bands with a < 2-year history. That's because Billy Bob has some name recognition, like or not.

    He has a history. It's part of what makes him the musician that he is.

    After all, he wasn't born yesterday. He just acts like he was.

  • Lonnie April 9, 2009, 8:20 am

    In music circles, drummers are notorious for being weird. And Billy Bob has always seemed to exist in an alternative reality, so I didn't really see this as something unexpectedly bizarre. In the end, the Boxmasters will succeed or fail on the merits of their music. Heard anything from Lisa Marie Presley lately?

  • Sheryl Breuker April 9, 2009, 9:47 am

    I really sort of got the impression he was zoned. He just appears like he's drugged out and incapable of functioning in ANY normal way.

    The interviewer did a phenomenal job of NOT losing his cool. I applaud him in a real big way having done a few interviews myself.

  • Alec April 9, 2009, 10:01 am

    I think it was an act, Sheryl. At the 10 minute mark, after having established who was the king dog at the hydrant, Billy Bob wakes up and talks about his music. And yeah, Jian was pretty amazing under fire.

  • Andrew April 9, 2009, 11:06 am

    "like mashed potatoes, without the gravy" ~ what a talentless prima donna hack..

    Moxy Fruvous was twice the band anything BBT could ever hope to be, and for those wondering why I bring them up, Jian was their lead songwriter and singer – he actually accomplished something with original music.

    I feel sorry for the guys in the band, they are just trying to make a buck and have to deal with that walking PR disaster.

  • Tracy April 9, 2009, 11:41 am

    I thnk, like Alec, that it was deliberate … if you are going to introduce me as someone doing music as a side thing, I'm not going to answer your questions because clearly you don't take me seriously. Unfortunately, Billy Bob's ego got very much in the way and he didn't think through the end result, which won't do him or his band any favours. I cringe for his bandmates. There's no "I" in team, and there are two "Os" in Billy Bob.

  • nomad April 20, 2009, 10:59 pm

    it takes real skill to act as spacey and random as Billy Bob did in that interview…

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