First, this disclaimer: I have no preference in the GOP presidential contest. I observe press conferences, interviews and debates through the prism of techniques.
With that said, Herman Cain’s response to sex harassment charges has been a graduate-level course in what NOT to do in a crisis.
Observing Cain and his campaign has been like watching a blind man swinging at a piñata. Every response has been an instant reaction without prior thought or planning, constantly missing the mark. As a result, Cain’s story has changed from one interview to the next. As more details emerge, his explanation adds a new wrinkle, provoking more questions and a picture of an organization in chaos.
Cain’s communications team—which may be a generous description—has been amateurish. Chief of Staff Mark Block took that a step further, appearing on Fox News and with a page of messages he visibly referred to during the live interview. In addition, Block charged the Rick Perry campaign for leaking the harassment story to Politico, a charge that very likely could be wrong, thus creating even deeper problems and concerns for the Cain campaign and its credibility. (Click on the video below.)
Herman Cain and his people were alerted this story was coming out about 10 days in advance. Their apparent inaction in doing due diligence and preparing a factual, credible, cogent and comprehensive response inevitably raises questions about the candidate and his ability to organize and lead. They had an opportunity to get ahead of this story, but their inaction has them trailing, keeping them off message.
Today’s reality of instant planet-wide communication makes it a priority to have a strong, credible communications infrastructure. And not just for political candidates; it’s imperative for all businesses and organizations.