Congressman Hits All the Right Notes in Apology

radel Congressman Hits All the Right Notes in Apology

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for US Rep. Trey Radel.

The public mea culpa is an essential PR exercise.  The offender seeks to lessen the sting of a misdeed and engender sympathy not scorn. For the V.A.P. – Very Apologetic Person – it’s never too late to say you’re sorry.

The latest example comes from US Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL), charged Tuesday with cocaine possession after he allegedly purchased the drug from an undercover agent. The self-styled  “Hip Hop Conservative” is the first sitting congressman in 30 years to be arrested on a drug charge. He quickly pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to probation.

Radel issued a statement immediately after his arrest. He blamed alcoholism, which led him “to an extremely irresponsible choice” to buy drugs. He invoked his wife and young son and vowed to get help “so I can be a better man for both of them.” Finally, he noted the “positive side” of his arrest, which offered him “an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling” and a chance to set “an example for other struggling with this disease.” If there’s a note he missed, we’re not aware of it.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Trey Radel, who wasted no time singing every verse of the mea culpa aria.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Respond quickly and own your misdeeds. Had Radel delayed, the initial news story might have dealt only with his arrest. A follow-up would present his apologia, keeping the story alive. He executed well, copping to a lesser offense of alcoholism rather than a problem with illegal drugs. He proffered his “husband and father” bona fides and turned his arrest into an opportunity – a role model for recovery. He also took a near-instant plea, closing his legal proceedings out neatly. Next step? Take a quiet turn in rehab and emerge with  a personal story of  redemption to earn leniency in the court of public opinion.

 

Is Anthony Weiner Hot-Dogging for Public Office?

anthony weiner 3001 Is Anthony Weiner Hot Dogging for Public Office?

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild.

Whatever happened to Anthony Weiner, the former congressman from Queens? Weiner resigned at a farewell press conference in 2011 after he was caught sending photos of his own wiener to six women, none of whom were his wife. The press went crazy and resignation swiftly followed. After something like that, how do you rebuild a reputation?

Judging by the recent interview he gave to People magazine, Weiner is getting good PR advice. People covered his recent interview with three full pages, complete with pictures of his baby, adoring wife Huma Abedin, and the headline “I Feel Like a Different Person.”

The article ticks all the right PR boxes: Yes, he regrets the incident; yes, he has sought counseling (sigh of predictability); and yes, his marriage is stronger than ever. He talks about how he let people down and would still love (possibly) to return to public office. Add in an endorsement from a political strategist who says, “[Weiner] worked hard when in office and can rebuild his life,” and have his loving wife show her support by saying that Anthony is trying to be the best husband and father “he can possibly be.” Finally, downgrade photos that were previously  called ‘lewd” and “creepy” during the height of the scandal to the more playful adjective “naughty.” Done! The stage is set for a political comeback.

The PR Verdict: “A”  (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild. Nicely done.

The PR Takeaway: Slow and steady wins the race. In PR remakes, the best course of action is to take tentative baby steps and gauge reactions. As Weiner himself says, “I’m still trying to work out where I am in the public consciousness.” For the moment, stay away from political controversy and stick to self-improvement. Wieners (the type besides the congressman and the hot dog) have gotten all sorts of famous men in trouble, Elliott Spitzer and Bill Clinton, to name two. This Weiner’s PR recovery is just beginning.

Can Anthony Weiner return to public office after this public scandal? Give us your PR Verdict!