Why Bain Capital is in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

BAINromney2 300x168 Why Bain Capital is in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

The PR Verdict: “C” for Bain Capital.

If any publicity is good publicity, then take a look at Bain Capital, the investment firm, founded by presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  The firm is front and center in a TV ad, issued by the Obama campaign, undermining Romney’s record on jobs.  The ad’s main focus is Bain’s 1993 investment in a Kansas steel company, GST Steel.

The advertisement cuts between interviews with former GST workers and clips of Romney on the campaign trial, saying he knows what “makes jobs come and go.”  One ageing worker says of Bain, “It’s like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” while another says that Bain’s impact was “like watching an old friend bleed to death”.  Ironically, the ad echoes a strategy used by Newt Gingrich during Republican primaries, which characterised Romney’s firm as “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.”  Ouch!

A statement has been issued by Bain to clarify  certain facts but it has gained almost no traction in the wider media. One thing Bain can be sure of? Whatever it says will be drowned out, from now until November.  How then to protect a brand?

The PR Verdict: “C” for Bain Capital.  So far the statement issued to the media is adequate but won’t suffice.  Editorial coverage wont give the clarifying bang needed.

The PR Takeaway: Bain Capital is caught in the in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In its statement the firm reaffirmed that it takes no public position on any candidate, that Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital over 13 years ago and that it has grown revenues in over 80 percent of its companies.  Fair enough! The bad news is that this will not get any serious airtime. Competing priorities are sexier.  Bain now needs strategically placed, low key advertising to convey its points without being edited.  Privately, why not start preparing for a partial rebrand, sometime after November?

To read the statement from Bain click here. To see the TV advertisement click here.

What’s your PR Verdict?

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Who Won This Weekend’s PR Booby Prize?

Trayvon martiin5 Who Won This Weekends PR Booby Prize?

The PR Verdict: “D” for Santorum and Gingrich in the Trayvon Martin case.

It’s a tie for the weekend’s booby prize for mistaken PR strategy.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich both win for their knee jerk reaction to Obama’s statement surrounding the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old from Florida.  Obama caught the headlines on Friday with his comment  “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon… When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”

Santorum and Gingrich immediately went into attack mode.  Gingrich asked rhetorically if the President was suggesting that  “if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn’t look like him?”  while Santorum chimed in, saying the President shouldn’t use this case to “drive a wedge in America”.

Romney was the classiest of the Republican contenders.  He echoed the President’s comments about this being a matter for all Americans and added the public needed to be reassured that justice is “carried out with impartiality and integrity.”

The PR Verdict: “D” for Santorum and Gingrich.  Both came across as not listening and making cheap political capital.  In so doing, both ceded the higher moral ground to Romney.

Given that Obama had avoided mentioning the words “black” or “race” it was always going to be a PR risk to claim the President was milking the Martin case for political gain.  Romney’s team understood the PR advantage in not being in constant attack mode.  They  might want to thank Santorum and Gingrich for helping to inadvertently elevate Romney to a more presidential and thoughtful standing.

To read more click here and here.

What’s your PR Verdict on the Republican candidates response to Obama’s comments on Trayvon Martin?

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Newt Gingrich and the Eye of the Tiger

rockygingrich Newt Gingrich and the Eye of the Tiger

PR VERDICT: "F" for Gingrich




The copyright owner of the song Eye of the Tiger filed a lawsuit against  Newt Gingrich, GOP candidate yesterday. The filing demands Gingrich stop using the song at public appearances.

The lawsuit lists previous appearances and promotional videos where Gingrich has allegedly used the song without permission since 2009.

The filing points out that Gingrich is well aware of copyright laws, given that he owns a production company that sells his written work, documentaries and audio books.  Furthermore the filing quotes Gingrich in a debate about online piracy as saying, “If a company finds it has genuinely been infringed upon, it has the right to sue.”

The PR VERDICT : “F”  for Newt and his campaign.

For a candidate who is routinely characterized by opposing Republicans as careless, impulsive and unstructured, Gingrich has handed his detractors a gift.  The failure to have previously addressed this issue, if true, is an embarrassment.

Best strategy now? Respond  to the claim with a short statement claiming that legal advice had confirmed that copyright was not an issue, the song has been used without comment since 2009 and that the timing of the lawsuit is politically motivated. Ideally the statement should have been issued yesterday by Gingrich’s campaign.

If none of the above is viable, then the Gingrich team needs to revise some of its most basic checklists and think about another song.  Suggestions welcome.

To read more about this click here. To watch a video click here.


Newt Gingrich & The Summer Walkout

 Newt Gingrich & The Summer WalkoutNewt Gingrich’s rally has startled everyone. From the man whose campaign was in disarray following en masse staff resignations over the summer, his comeback has been the year-end surprise. Who would have thought?

Despite this, serious questions persist over the summer walkout by key staff. At the time, the perception was they were frustrated by his autocratic ways and erratic style.

His former spokesman, Rick Tyler, hit the airwaves this week apologizing for his ‘hasty’ decision to resign. When asked what went wrong, Tyler gives a non-answer saying Gingrich’s biggest mistake was to hire senior advisers. Newt, he assures us, knows best and the external advisers were taking the campaign off course.

The PR Verdict: “C Minus” for Newt’s former spokesman. This explanation doesn’t help Newt and doesn’t explain the acrimony surrounding the resignations.

For Newt Gingrich to redress the widely held perception that he is too autocratic, his former spokesman needs to find a different reason for the summer walkout. Claiming now that it was the fault of outside consultants only reinforces the widely held view that Newt’s is a one-man show. More creative thinking is needed to prevent the walkout being a thorn in his side should Newt win the nomination.

Donald Trump: Anyone Coming To My Party?

donaldtrump Donald Trump: Anyone Coming To My Party? Donald Trump (left) announced recently that he would be chairing a televised debate with the leading GOP frontrunners. Invitations were sent.

John Huntsman was the first to decline. After that, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney sent their regrets. Michele Bachmann remains on the fence while only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted.

Ironically these very same candidates were previously beating a path to The Donald’s door, assuming his public endorsement would make the difference. That was before The Donald intimated that he might run as an independent himself.

The lesson learnt? Presidential candidates can’t shine when pandering to a celebrity whose trademark is opinionated bluster.

The PR Verdict: “A” to the candidates who have sent their regrets.  This was not the right PR vehicle.

The Donald has a habit of shouting down ideas and people he disagrees with. This has made him a media celebrity albeit without a high level of credibility or gravitas. By appearing in the debate,  a presidential candidate runs the risk of looking like he is pandering to a bully.  Not very presidential. Better to send a thank you note and regrets.