One of the first things a media trainer will tell a client; always assume your mic is hot! Oh, and be sure to take the microphone off when the interview is over. Maybe someone close to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown should have clued him in. In the midst of a tough reelection campaign, Brown did the unthinkable today. He got caught being totally frank about a voter. After a media photo op with potential voters, Brown jumped into his car and started ranting about an elderly woman; calling her a bigot. Trouble was, the prime minister forgot to take off his mic and it was still "live". Later the embarrassing remarks were played back during a radio appearance by Brown. With egg on his face, Brown apologized and even went back to the woman's house for another mea culpa. Now the lady has hired a PR consultant. Let the games begin. With the election just a week away, a blunder like this may have real impact on the outcome.
Even professionals can make careless mistakes. A few years back, a CNN anchor forgot about her mic during a stop in the restroom. Viewers got some laughs out of restroom talk and the anchor laughed it off too.
But, if I'm sure Brown and his staff aren't laughing about his hot mic experience.
The next time you do a broadcast interview, think of these two examples. It should help you remember the golden rule. Your mic is always hot!