When holding a news conference, the rule of thumb is to avoid distractions and stay focused on your message. Most rules, of course, have exceptions. We found one when Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo talked with the media about his decision to resign and become the top cop in Miami. He was emotional at times as he praised his department’s response to the demonstrations in the summer of 2020. Then he went “off message” when he spotted a friend and colleague. See the video here:

In briefly pausing the news conference to greet the fire chief, Chief Acevedo appeared warm and authentic. It was a great message, even if it was unplanned. Of course, we advise our clients to stay on message when dealing with the media. And 98 percent of the time, it’s the right thing to do, even if Acevedo’s off-script moment worked for him.