A Political Sex Scandal Does Not Have to Result In A Crisis

Cain, Strauss-Kahn, Edwards, Clinton what do they all have in common?

Cain, Strauss-Kahn, Edwards, Clinton what do they all have in common?

One could argue that a crisis is unavoidable. It’s bound to happen.  However, in politics does this argument still stand true? I’d like to agree…to an extent. As a marketing and communications practitioner I can’t help but think -could this all have been avoided? Time and time again we have witnessed sex scandals exposed during campaigns and despite having “qualified” communications strategists on board there is little evidence that pre crisis management was considered.

In pre crisis communication, strategists must identify ALL potential internal and external issues that may pose a problem for the candidate. This includes past allegations. Sex scandals are prevalent in political campaigns. Herman Cain or his advisors should have made note of these past allegations and decided early on whether to address this issue or at least prepare a plan of action should it be released elsewhere. That way the “surprise” effect would serve no relevance and the candidate can move forward. Your lack of pre crisis management can damage your reputation which may leave a permanent mark in the minds of primary stakeholders: voters. To prove my point- a recent Republican Reuters/Ispos poll showed Cain’s favorability dropped nine percentage points (57 from 66 a week ago) and amongst all registered voters his favorability dropped 5 percentage points (32 from 37). By the looks of things, these numbers may continue to dwindle for the aspiring Presidential candidate.

To make matters worse, the story is beginning to gain wind across social media and the campaign teams futile attempt to spin it back on Governor Rick Perry are pointless.  According to Alison Dagnes, editor of the book Sex Scandals in American Politics, “He began with a no-denial denial, then moved to a rejection of the facts, then an accusation that the liberal media is out to get him. Using all the different media forms available is a good idea, but he has to come up with one message.” The Cain camp was caught off guard, which could have easily been avoided.

Politicians take note…pre crisis management steps to minimize crisis situations and maintain your reputation in the process:

1. Identify the sources to scan

2. Collect the information

3. Analyze the information

4. Take preventative action, if needed- You need to know the difference between a crisis, nuance, problem, and a market place assault before determining how you might identify the issue.

5. Evaluate the result of the attempted threat reduction tactics use to determine if the actions resolved the issue as the organization intended

In a nutshell: Dear politicians you pay people lots of money to people to get you out of crisis however if you adopt a pre crisis prevention plan you will not have to damage your campaign. Sometimes that pre crisis management has to start with YOU. By paying attention to the internal and external cues you can evaluate what might be a crisis and how to effectively handle it.


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