If you follow politics even remotely, you know that Romney was recently filmed telling a private party of supporters that “47% of Americans pay no income tax” and that “47% of Americans will vote for Obama” because they live off of the government.
As expected, Romney’s comments lit a fire of commentary and backlash from people across America. Both previous supporters and non-supporters were infuriated by the comments, claiming that “Romney doesn’t care about 47% of America.” 47% of America is about 150 million people.
From a public relations standpoint, the release of this video is considered a crisis. And in a crisis, a PR team should quickly disseminate proper messages and information so that the media can pick up on those messages and, in turn, report them to the public.
I came across this clip of Jon Stewart’s commentary on the situation. The video is basically a montage of outlandish statements Fox News has made in defense of Romney’s horrible remarks. I thought it was interesting, because though Fox News is not Romney’s PR team, it seemed as though they were communicating on his behalf.
The problem here is that Romney’s PR team neither came forth and apologized for the video nor did they defend it. Because the PR team left this issue so open-ended, media like Fox News were free to interpret Mitt’s comments (and the issue at large) for themselves. When dealing with a crisis, the standpoint that you’re taking should be clear, and your messages should be even clearer; this way the media is unable to make false statements about your company (in this case, Romney).
Because of the poor performance from Romney’s PR team, Fox News was able to develop these claims:
1) The video release on the “left-wing” website was “eavesdropping” and not credible
2) Romney didn’t use the “ideal language” to get his point across
3) Romney’s claims about 47% of America we correct, without stating the source or how
4) For lack of a better word, commentators tried to spin this crisis situation by saying it is an “opportunity” or a “win” for Romney
If Romney’s PR team had done a good job in communicating during this crisis, they would have taken a stance on the video instead of being wish-washy. As a result, Fox News would either a) have the facts to defend him or b) not made a big deal of the matter and moved on, because the “forgetting” of a crisis is the product of good crisis communication <