If the knock on you is your tendency to point fingers and avoid personal responsibility for error, every explanation you offer for losing an election is going to be cast in that light. You can’t win.
If I were Hillary Clinton’s PR counselor, I would have urged her NOT to write “What Happened,” and instead write “What’s Next.” Of course, if I were her PR counselor, she probably would have dismissed my advice because that’s what she does.
Secretary Clinton ran a gauntlet of unprecedented obstacles, came out on the winning side of the vote total and still failed to become the nation’s first female president. She suffers that special sting of injustice.
She does herself no good, however, by autopsying it. The choir to whom she is preaching suffers from PTSD and
doesn’t need to relive the horror. Everyone else will not read her book but continue to ridicule her based on the snippets shared by the punditry.
I would have urged her to be the victor, not the victim — she did, after all, earn the votes of a plurality of Americans. Build on that and lead from the front. Choose a constructive cause or two.
The argument is made that she is uniquely qualified to diagnose what went wrong for Democrats in 2016 and what they need to do in the future. I say, she isn’t at all in the best position to do that — she’s too close to it. Let more neutral observers do that role. At least when they spread the blame around, they won’t get tarred for it.
The Equifax PR team has worked overtime since releasing the bombshell on Sept. 7 that social security numbers, birth dates and other sensitive information of 140 million people was stolen by hackers. Talk about a brand disaster: it’s like Fort Knox discovering gold missing.
Equifax developed an online tool that supposedly helped customers determine if they were among the victims. But it is suspect. Reporters quickly discovered that if you entered bogus information in the form, you got the same message: You might be a victim; here, let us give you free credit monitoring service.
The phone lines were jammed.
The PR folks did an admirable job of making their website a crisis communication hub. They updated the FAQ through the weekend.
The FAQ did not mention that three Equifax VPs sold $1.8 million worth of stock in the days following the discovery of the hack and before the breach was announced. In the week since the announcement, Equifax stock has fallen 31 percent. The company line — that the execs were not aware of the hack and their sale was just a coincidence — should have been noted on the website. Or maybe the PR folks know something we don’t — like, say, an insider trading investigation that they can’t comment on.
And why did the announcement come 40 days after discovery of the hack? Granted, you don’t want to go public until the scale of the problem is known and a recovery plan is worked out. But 40 days seems excessive, and I hope it didn’t take that long to build the bogus find-out-if-you’re-a-victim site.
I’ll be watching this one as it plays out. Can Equifax steal the Lame PR crown from Wells Fargo?
Each week, PR Puzzler highlights public relations issues in the news. It is written by Steve Krizman, principle of Connected Communication, LLC. PR Puzzler items are discussion topics in his classes at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Steve Krizman is a communication and PR change agent who has led innovation in health care, journalism, and higher education. He currently is a tenure-track professor of PR and journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Steve is sole proprietor of Connected Communication, LLC, a consultancy that helps organizations develop integrated PR, communication, and marketing programs. His particular expertise is in the health industry, including insurance, health delivery systems, and digital health.