Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

Romney Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR PERFECT) for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney might not have been a particularly awesome Presidential candidate (or a particularly enlightened pet owner), but in matters of basic human decency, his bona fides are unassailable. So it was appropriate and magnanimous of him to sound off over the weekend in defense of the man who bested him in 2012, Barack Obama.

Romney, in a statement to The Boston Herald, excoriated Robert Copeland, the rural New Hampshire police commissioner who was overheard using a racial slur to describe the President – and who, despite widespread and uniform condemnation, initially refused even to apologize, let alone resign. Defending his N-word usage, Copeland said the President “meets and exceeds my criteria for such.” His forced resignation was announced by the town government yesterday.

Romney, who owns a nearby vacation home in New Hampshire, minced no words is calling for Copeland to apologize and resign, in no particular order. “The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community,” he told the Herald. Good for Mitt.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Mitt Romney, for throwing his moral authority around – and knowing he had to.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when you must speak up. It is as important as knowing when not to. Romney’s remarks about his onetime opponent’s White House tenure and the 2012 Presidential contest haven’t always been supportive or conciliatory. And likely the passage of time hasn’t fully dulled his smarting from the 2012 loss. In the current matter, he could have kept quiet, but likely sooner or later the press would have come calling, expecting an opinion. Romney, among other Obama critics who have also called for Copeland’s resignation, is uniquely credentialed to weigh in: He lives in the community. That made it all the more necessary that he speak out. After all, in the end all politics is local. Along with The World Outside, Romney’s neighbors also deserved to know where he stood.

NBA Fallout Continues As NAACP Head Resigns

 NBA Fallout Continues As NAACP Head Resigns

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the NAACP. (Pictured: former NAACP LA President Leon Jenkins.)

Even when public relations scandals are properly handled, they can continue to thrive when an event triggers a national conversation. Last week, the National Basketball Association banned Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, from the NBA for life after racist statements he allegedly made went public. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that Sterling’s racism had been known about for years; action was taken after bad press went viral. Spurred by the larger issue of racism in America, the media continued to look for a story – and found one, in Sterling’s association with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Los Angeles NAACP President Leon Jenkins resigned last Friday after reports that Sterling was to receive a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP. This would make two NAACP awards for Sterling. The first, for promoting civil rights, was given in 2009, the year Sterling agreed to pay a $2.7 million settlement after the US Justice Department sued him for allegedly refusing to rent apartments he owned to African Americans and Hispanics.

“In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused,” Jenkins said, “I respectfully resign my position.” Appropriate action, but again, it may not stop more negative fallout.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the NAACP.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Internal review of public decisions is a must. Lifetime achievement and other awards, especially those given to public figures, will be featured in the media. As such, they should be carefully reviewed by the organization that will be represented by these figures. Jenkins is at fault for giving Sterling, a known racist, these awards, but did he act independently? Surely higher-ups must have known. They’re now likely shaking in their corner offices.

 

NBA’s Silver Is a PR Game Changer

 NBAs Silver Is a PR Game Changer

THE PR VERDICT: A (PR PERFECT) for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Just three months into his tenure as commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver was confronted with a situation that could make or break his career: how to handle leaked audio recordings of Don Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, making racist statements.

Silver’s response was pure PR gold. On Tuesday, he shocked the sports world by imposing the maximum fine on Sterling ($2.5 million) and banning him for life from the NBA. Sterling cannot attend any NBA basketball game or appear at any Clippers facility, nor can he participate any business decision regarding the team.

At the press conference, Silver’s voice shook with emotion. “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage,” he fumed at the microphone. He also said he “wiill do everything in my power” to force Sterling to sell his interest in the team.

The punishment was swift and harsh–and universally lauded. “The conversation transcended sports,” wrote USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan [no relation to the author of this blog]. ESPN’s J.A. Adande opined, “He took bold strides down his own path, showed an unwillingness to allow the sore of Sterling to fester. It’s a new era.”

The magnitude of Silver’s decision, quick action, and unvarnished disgust conspire to make this one of the most significant moments in basketball history.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR PERFECT) for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has cemented his legacy just three months into the job.

THE PR TAKEAWAY:  A good decision goes a long way. Silver’s unprecedented actions are important not just for managing the current situation, but for what they suggest about the new commissioner: this is a strong individual with a low tolerance for bad behavior, someone who will bring stability to the league. The press conference left no doubt: Adam Silver is a game changer.

Miss America Faces a Melting Pot of Racism

 Miss America Faces a Melting Pot of Racism

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for new Miss America Nina Davuluri.

How far the Miss America beauty pageant has come. Though still a relic from another time (where, in popularity, is the Mr. America pageant?), the institution now reflects greater diversity than the days when one of the original requirements for contestants was that they “must be of good health and of the white race.”

Some Americans are holding on to that old idea. Within minutes of Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, being crowned the new Miss America, racist tweets were fired off. “Do you not have to be American to win MISS AMERICA anymore?!” read one of the few we can  print here (sufficient to say that racial slurs were used freely).

To their credit, a greater number of Tweeters rushed to Davuluri’s defense. “I don’t know if you’ve read the Constitution,” wrote one, “but anyone born in America is American.” Tweeters also brought attention to the most offensive missives, resulting in quick deletion.

So, you’ve made it to the biggest pageant in the land, you’ve done a stunning Bollywood-inspired dance routine, you win the crown – and people accuse you of being a member of Al Queda. Is there a better time to give the shopworn beauty contestant soundbyte of wishing for world peace? Davuluri did better. After thanking the organization for embracing ethnic diversity, the new Miss America addressed anti-American sentiment by simply saying, “I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Nina Davuluri, the new Miss America.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: When attacked, don’t mount a defense. In this case of an unprovoked assault, it was best for Divuluri to say little. She lived up to the stately image of Miss America with a brief, on-brand quote, knowing that to directly address such groundless attacks would have left her too far across enemy lines. The best defense isn’t a good offense; it’s a cool head, perhaps under a sparkling crown.