In the run up to Christmas, one of the fun parts of working so hard throughout the year is getting invited to all the festive parties. From the annual bash at your own organisation, to client events and industry dos, there are so many opportunities to share a glass of wine with the people who have made your year worthwhile. I love this. But, as someone who specialises in reputation, I’d also counsel some caution – what feels like a good idea three bottles of champagne in may not seem that bright the next morning…
I mean, this is kind of obvious I know. However, you wouldn’t believe the number of incidents that take place on professional Twitter or Facebook accounts after the person in charge has had a couple of Christmas sherries. There’s no getting away from the fact that we are all human and booze affects us in the same way – so, if you’re looking forward to cutting loose, delete social apps from your phone for the night and pick it up the next day.
You may not be sinking ships if you say a bit too much to a journalist at a party but you could do some lasting damage to your reputation, in the industry and within your organisation. Remember that most journalists are not off the record, even with a drink in hand, so don’t share secrets over the mulled wine unless you’re prepared to see them in print.
Start the night with the photos – take some great snaps where you’re all clear eyed, upright and toasting the future. If you do get a bit worse for wear then avoid all cameras as they will produce a permanent record of what you look like after five G&Ts and can be easily circulated. Don’t photobomb with silly faces, avoid anyone trying to take selfies and definitely don’t start removing articles of clothing when you see a camera (you may laugh but I’ve witnessed that happening with the most unexpected of sudden strippers).
It’s not always easy to feel when you’re pushing that tipping point, especially if you failed to consume any food first and you’ve had a really stressful day. But moderation on the booze front is really the only way to 100% make sure that you don’t end up telling the Managing Partner to stick the job, groping someone or randomly verbally abusing people you always found secretly annoying. Have a glass of wine then two of water and stop at the point where you feel the urge to shout “and another thing, I always hated your taste in ties.”
Take a taxi, wear a seatbelt and don’t drive if you’ve had one too many. Take heed from the finance director of Halfords, Jonny Mason, who was caught by police in Norway drink driving a golf buggy, spent two weeks in jail and was fined £12,000. Unless you’re planning to venture into reality TV remember that not all publicity is good publicity (and jail terms are bad).
Oh, and if you’re sitting there with your head in your hands, reading this through your fingers because it’s all come that little bit too late, you know where to come for all your crisis comms PR needs – at Christmas, or all year round.