After a short hiatus from my blog - time I spent doing media, presentation and crisis communications seminars with Laura [Peck] from Los Angeles to New York to Ottawa and then on to Alberta. So it's time to catch up with the world of politics. And the word 'nightmare' comes to mind with the Presidential campaigns of Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
It's hard to believe, but going into this week's Republican debate all eyes were on Herman Cain and how he would handle the revelations about the sexual harassment charges leveled by four women against him. Instead, the internet and media coverage ended up chock full of commentary on Rick Perry's debate disaster. Ouch!
1. The Politico journalist called the Cain campaign with a heads up on his story of two sexual harassment allegations settled by the National Restaurant Association on Cain's behalf in the 1990s. What did Mr. Cain do? Nothing. He sat on it.
2. When the news broke he met the media on his way out of a Sunday Morning talk show and claimed he didn't know anything about it. He even demanded the names of the two women who had signed the confidentiality agreement!
3. His story began to change - first denying it; then waffling about what the agreement was; calling one of the women a 'liar' [thus triggering her demand to be released from her confidentiality agreement]; then labeling it racism, a political smear job by the Democrats etc.
Instead of a forthright and clear statement at a news conference from the outset, he ensured that it was at the very least a ten day story [or much longer]. Remember one of our 10 Principles of Crisis Communications: 'Get all the bad news out at once. Have a 'bad day' - otherwise you'll have a bad week, a bad month or a bad year!'
Overcoming Panic and Fear:Risk and Crisis Communications
Gov. Rick Perry's 53 Second Nightmare
After Wednesday evening's CNBC Republican debate, all of the media and bloggers' focus was on
Rick Perry's Painful Memory Lapse.
The big question is: how damaging was it? In the short term, it is certainly embarassing to him and his supporters. The timing was particularly damaging. All he had to do was show some improvement over his previous less-than-stellar debate performances. Instead, his self-inflicted brain cramp over the names of the three Agencies he would cut was a delight to the media commentators, 24 hour news channels, and particularly on YouTube®, Twitter®, Facebook® and the blogosphere.
It's too early to say if the damage is permanent. He has moved quickly - appearing the next morning on the morning TV shows and the next evening on with the Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses showing he has a sense of humor, rather than rolling over and playing dead. [I had said first thing in the morning that is what he should do and I was blown away when it was later announced that is exactly what he was scheduled to do!] It looks like the Perry campaign's disaster recovery strategy is textbook on how to do it.
In the meantime, Mitt Romney remains largely untouched, graciously responding when invited to feast on Herman Cain's problems, by avoiding the temptation to pile on. Romney is watching his opponents rise and fall back, as his slow but steady campaign rolls on inexorably towards his [increasingly likely] nomination.
I was on Don Martin's Power Play on CTV News Channel on Thursday talking about all of this. Who says politics is boring?
Remembering Our Veterans
Until next time.....