PooR timing, Mitt

      9 Comments on PooR timing, Mitt

What’s wrong with this picture? This week, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, just a couple of days after being forced to explain his “I’m not concerned about the very poor” comment, stood side-by-side in Las Vegas with Donald Trump to thank him for his blessing. From a public relations standpoint, the billionaire endorsing the multi-millionaire was really bad timing.

PR pro Linda Forrest talked about timing in a recent blog. “If real estate is summed up by the expression, ‘There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location,” she wrote, “PR could easily misappropriate a slight variation of that: ‘there are three things that matter in public relations: timing, timing, timing.’”

Whether Romney has much, some or no empathy for the poor despite his blurt, he truly needed to spend a few days in apology mode. This is a man who had been downplaying his significant wealth because the nation’s 99% is still reeling from the recession and in a touchy mood. So wouldn’t it have been best if he put a little bit of time between his seeming insensitivity and his highly public romance with The Donald, one of the richest and most seemingly insensitive men in the world?

Timing a message plays a very key role in PR. So does the public’s frame of mind. The two are so tied together that to misread it can be a terrible mistake. Romney needed to show the undecideds that he cares about those less monetarily fortunate than he. Publicizing Trump’s endorsement when the announcement could have been postponed was a “very poor” way to do show empathy. Your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “PooR timing, Mitt

  1. Samantha

    I couldn’t agree more with the importance of timing in PR, which was only made even clearer after Romney’s and Trump’s appearance. As a PR student, we are told to stay up to date with the news and current events for exactly this reason. Our audience, as PR professionals, are the publics and the media, all of which are effected, persuaded, and guided by timing, intentionally or not.

  2. Phil Hecken

    Perhaps the caucus-goers in Colorado and Minnesota, and the primary voters in Missouri sent Mitt a message last night…and perhaps they didn’t since Missouri was non-binding and described as a “beauty contest” (wait…what?) by many. Still, one has to think Romney’s gaffe changed a few minds within the GOP…interestingly it was not Captain Moonbeam who benefited but Rick Santorum. With the two big prizes of Michigan and Arizona (both once viewed as locks for Mitt) ahead, it will be interesting to see if last night’s results were a blip or an omen.

    I’ve yet to hear a mea culpa from Romney, and by now it’s too late. Although, when the quote was taken in full context (and further clarified by Soledad O’Brien), it was not truly as large a gaffe as the media are portraying it to be. Nevertheless, he should have gone into full damage control — ignoring it or dismissing it has likely cost him among all segments of the population.

    I reiterate my earlier contention that had Mitt not “accepted” Trump’s endorsement when he did, he might not have received it at all. I would further argue that not getting Trump’s endorsement would not have been the worst thing either. The fact that it occurred at all, and so close to his misstep only further compounded the image of Romney as super-rich (which is in and of itself not a crime) but out-of-touch (which is). He should have backpeddaled immediately from the “safety net” quip and worked hard to say something along the lines of “but I’ll work my damnedest as President to ensure that no one needs a safety net because I’ll help them” rather than let it sound (and possibly mean) “well, they may be poor, and they’ll always be poor, but the government will take care of them so why should I care.”

    Bad PR, lack of spin.

    Let’s see what awaits him in Michigan and Arizona before we see if this is a blip or an omen.

  3. Alecia Detka

    Entirely skipping over any sort of “apology mode” only sends out another negative message on Romney’s behalf. If, like you said, it would have been easy to postpone the event, then there is absolutely no excuse for Romney not apologizing for the comment he has made (especially because there could be many easy solutions) Instead, he comes out heartless. As only a student who has yet to really learn how important PR is, I cannot completely fathom how steps to redeem Romney has been overlooked, when even I can see how important this would be. Not only is the timing wrong, but Romney only enforces his original insulting comment, which you would think he would want to reverse.

  4. Susanne Engelen

    From a PR point of view, yes, it’s all about timing. From my own point of view, Romney’s biggest mistake had already been made when pointing out that he’s not concerned about the very poor. That statement is crystal clear, to-the-point and therefore can’t be misunderstood. This very statement has undoubtedly led to the lost of a great amount of voters. For most people, the acceptance of Trump’s endorsement must have been more like a confirmation to their opinions about Romney. Sure, some undecided voters have probably made their decisions after the Trump incident. But, for Romney it has been important to get Trump’s ‘blessing’. If he hadn’t accepted it at this point, he may not have gotten it at all. If he hád waited, a few days or even weeks being in some kind of ‘apology mode’, this wouldn’t have made a difference to my opinion about him. In fact, from a PR perspective I probably would have thought; “yeah right, he’s only trying to apologize to save his rich little ass” – excuse my language. My sympathy for him wouldn’t have changed. Yes, it’s all about timing. But, in this case, I think it’s even more about the message.

  5. Julia Chappell

    Mitt Romney’s PR rep should be embarrassed for overlooking the fact of timing. I think like you said that a few days in “apology mode” would have significantly improved the public’s opinion about Romney’s harsh statement. I think having a longer grace period before accepting endorsements from one of the world’s least popular wealthy men would have made it a little better from a PR standpoint, but could no way correct the poor timing of the publicizing of the endorsement is such close succession. Thus far in the primary campaign, Romney has not had much scrutinization about any personal blemishes like former candidate Herman Cain and current candidate Newt Gingrich. Until this slip, Romney had been left relatively unscathed. Now he probably will pay the price losing some undecided voters, and he has bad timing to blame for it.

  6. jessica kleid

    It’s true, PR is all about timing. Good PR will make sure a story is newsworthy and delivered promptly, otherwise the story won’t be considered news. Having “The Donald” back Romney up after Romney’s poorly thought out remark was just horrible timing. There aren’t too many worse ways to back up the comment “I don’t care about the poor” than to have one of nation’s most recognized icons of wealth standing right beside the political candidate who claims he doesn’t care about the poor. As a democrat, this situation is great. As a PR student, this situation is terrible. If I were Romney or his PR team I would probably proceed with the campaign by donating a fat check to Little Sisters of the Poor in order to have some sort of recovery after the statement.

  7. Phil Hecken

    I’m not so sure that receiving Trump’s “endorsement” is as much a blessing as it could be a curse. Only the day before, the media had been (wrongly) taking The Donald’s forthcoming “announcement” as a Newt endorsement…only to have Donald throw Newt under the bus the next day.

    Like you say, timing is everything, and I think Romney’s “acceptance” of Trump’s endorsement was almost done as a pre-emptive strike — if he didn’t accept the endorsement that day, he’d have lost it. Because Trump still views himself as the center of the universe and a king-maker, it was probably a calculated (bad) judgment on Romney’s part to have it when it happened.

    Politicians will make gaffes all the time, and Romney’s “I don’t care about the poor” (taken only in that context) was a major one, but not one from which he can’t recover. But to allow it to get out there, without sufficient mea culpae, and then to have Trump’s “blessing,” was surely not a good thing for Romney or his message. Fortunately for Mitt, Newt seems bent on vendetta and self-destruction, so the nomination should be Romney’s sooner rather than later, and he can seek to rebuild his image and message leading up to the general.

  8. Abby Littleton

    I could not agree more with this piece. Romney made a huge mistake to make the remark, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” To make an equally discouraging mistake only days after that comment by flaunting Trump’s endorsement is shameful. Like you mentioned, Romney should have spent more time mending his first mistake before presenting Trump’s blessing and in turn creating more of a commotion. Now it will be even more difficult to try to shine a light on his positive attributions when the negatives keep multiplying. The “scene” in Las Vegas should have been postponed at least until Romney cleared the air with his damaging comment. This is a great example of bad timing in Public Relations.

  9. Annik Spencer

    The role of timing in PR is not something that is usually discussed, but, as you pointed out, most of PR is “timing, timing, timing.” I feel that PR representative who work in politics need to be especially sensitive of timing. The public’s eyes are fixed on presidential candidates during election time, just waiting for a candidate to make a mistake or say something wrong. Also, American’s opinions on candidates are constantly changing depending on what they do or say. Saying a bad comment or having bad behavior can be disastrous to a candidates reputation, especially if it is said or done at the wrong time.


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