Republicans Face Harsh Realities, Rebranding

 Republicans Face Harsh Realities, Rebranding

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Priebus and the RNC.

“Scary,” “narrow-minded,” and “the party of stuffy old men.” Those are just some of the ways the Republican party  describes itself in an unvarnished 100-page report released by the Republican National Committee (RNC) this week. Commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus following the 2012 presidential election, the so-called “autopsy report” identifies the party’s major flaws in attracting voters and recommends big cultural change to help Republicans win the next time around.

The candid nature of the report makes it interesting reading. One of the major issues identified is the party’s failure to appeal to younger voters and minorities, two of the largest growing voting demographics. “Public perception of the party is at record lows,” the report notes. “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.”

This public soul-searching is unprecedented for a national political party. While some Republicans are bristling at the release of the report, others laud the RNC for taking such a dramatic step. One thing everyone should be able to agree on it is that change is needed: Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, a seismic shift from the prior two decades. Perhaps this report is the blueprint for the Republican party’s future?

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Priebus and the RNC. Acknowledging failures is never easy, but every turnaround needs a first step.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: True rebranding is an inside-out job. The invasive nature of a well-done rebranding process sometimes comes as a surprise to corporate leaders, who falsely assume they are simply signing up  a new logo, not a massive corporate  rethink.  A rebrand is a major undertaking that involves the acceptance of harsh truths and a commitment to making fundamental changes. A new name or logo change may be an important part of the equation, but they’re not the end result. Fortunately for companies (unlike political parties), the dirty linen can usually be examined more privately.

Who Has Already Won Tonight’s Debate?

 Who Has Already Won Tonights Debate?

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to both Teams Obama and Romney.

Candy Crowley has been warned. CNN’s star political reporter, who is hosting tonight’s presidential debate, has come in for some rare bipartisan criticism from both the Obama and Romney camps. The reason? In pre-interviews, the debate’s host said she plans to ask the candidates follow-up questions and intervene when their answers are not clear. Neither side likes this approach. Their preferred strategy? Let the audience simply ask its question and then, once answered, promptly move on to the next.

A complaint from both campaigns has been lodged with the Commission of Presidential Debates, which oversees the event. Apparently, the Memorandum of Understanding that both campaigns sign, prior to the debate, says explicitly that the moderator is to “play a relatively limited role.” Crowley clearly feels differently. Cue concern.

So how does Candy Crowley want to run her debate? She explained in interviews that once the question is asked, her role is to say, “Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?” Astonishingly, neither side wants an experienced journalist to do that. It might be easier to ask an intern to host the debate next time around.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to both Teams Obama and Romney. Not only undignified to complain, but a great PR opportunity missed.

The PR Takeaway: The better position? Nothing fazes or concerns our Presidential candidate. Complaining that an experienced journalist might simply be doing her job, i.e., asking tough follow up questions, is hardly Presidential. Let the viewers decide. Besides, the PR point here was to let the other side do the complaining, and then come out strongly saying that the hope is whoever is running for Prez can handle tough and probing questions. This was one opportunity where the moral high ground was there for the taking. For the moment, the clear winner in this debate is none other than Candy Crowley.

To read more, click here.

What’s your opinion of the candidates’ debate complaints? Give us your PR Verdict!

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to the media for having re-established the perception of impartiality. For the last few weeks, Team Romney has been complaining that the media is biased and not giving the campaign a fair hearing. Yet by consensus, whom did the media deem the winner of the debate? Mitt Romney! Even the New York Times and MSNBC agreed. The media changed the national conversation by not backing their perceived favorite. Who came out on top? The media!

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) for Team Obama. The oratory skills that made Barack Obama were absent during the debates. Even Democrat-friendly media sources said the president wasn’t up to debating par; the general consensus was that he brought a knife to a gun fight. He has two remaining chances to come back armed.


 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV AWARD FOR PR BOOMERANG: Big Bird. During the debates, the Sesame Street icon was used as a representative of the Public Broadcasting System, an entity Mitt Romney decried as unnecessary. He promised to pluck federal funding from the bird’s network nest if elected, saying “I’m going to stop borrowing money from China to pay for things we don’t need.” PBS head Paula Kerger was quick to respond, clarifying that PBS doesn’t get direct money from the government and saying, “With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is just unbelievable.” Meanwhile, the Romney swipe had a positive effect: Big Bird was invited to appear on Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Piers Morgan Tonight. Sometimes it really is better to be talked about than not.

Two-Step Fix for Romney’s “47 Percent” Disaster

 Two Step Fix for Romneys 47 Percent Disaster

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s response to this latest setback.

Any suggestions for Mitt Romney as to how to put the genie back in the bottle? That is the question as he copes with the fallout from the now infamous “47 Percent” video, in which Romney claimed that 47 percent of the American voting population suffers from a paralyzing dependence on government support and entitlements. It’s a “victim” mentality, said Mitt as he told the faithful that nearly half of the US population is an electoral lost cause.

This taped speech at a private fundraising event was never meant to be aired publicly, but now Democrats can’t believe their luck. For Romney’s campaign, battling with accusations of being tone deaf to the economic plight of ordinary Americans, this comes at a bad time. Mitt, in his response, is holding his ground. While his views were “inelegantly” expressed, he says, they related solely to how his campaign is being structured. This was about tactical electoral strategy only.

Not a bad response, and what else could he say under the circumstances? No sense in denying the comments, but they certainly need explanation and context.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s response to this latest setback.   His response may have blunted some of the damage to the campaign, but he needs to do more.

The PR Takeaway: Distract and Switch should be the mantra of Team Romney’s campaign for the coming days. Change the topic of the conversation by pulling wife Ann or running mate Ryan into the media to talk about something completely different. Crisis moments like these have a shorter shelf life when something else fills the vacuum. With the Democrats milking the video for all its worth, the best advice to Romney is to cede the limelight over the next couple of days – the sooner the better.

What else can Team Romney do to mitigate this damage? Give us your PR Verdict!

Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

ricGrenell 300x165 Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

The PR Verdict: "A" for Ric Grenell, Romney's short lived foreign policy PR.

Ric Grenell, Mitt Romney’s former foreign policy spokesman (of three weeks), hit the headlines yesterday.  It must have been a tough day for the Romney campaign. The resignation of a major aide is hard enough, but when he resigns after twenty one days, it’s clear trouble is brewing.

Ric Grenell has impeccable Republican credentials.  Serving four US ambassadors to the United Nations as Chief US spokesman, he carried many unpopular PR cans during the Bush presidency.  When Romney appointed him as his foreign policy spokesman it seemed a logical choice.  Then the trouble started.

Romney says Grenell’s sexuality (he is gay) was not an issue but it clearly was for some of Romney’s conservative contributors, as was Grenell’s previous endorsement of gay marriage.  Angered by his appointment, the American Family Association said Grenell’s appointment sent a “drop dead” message to supporters of traditional values.  Romney’s campaign managers asked Grenell to lay low as the protests within the party grew, hoping they would pass.  They didn’t and he resigned citing the “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.”

The PR Verdict:  “A” for Ric Grenell who left the campaign on his own terms.  Grenell left as elegantly as he could, thanking Romney for making it clear his sexuality was not an issue.  Clearly this was not the case for other Romney supporters.

PR Takeaway:  Think carefully before picking sides.  The ball is squarely in Romney’s court, now saddled with explaining how the party and its candidate are not captive to polarising social conservatives.  Headlines like this will worry moderate voters who, if the polls are to be believed, are going to make the difference for Romney.  Was this the wisest strategy?

To read more about Ric Grenell click here.

Whats your PR Verdict?

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