We all have our brain freezes/brain farts, though few of us have them in front of millions of people. Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has made what will perhaps be the single most famous of these gaffes of this generation. This viewer felt some sympathy as he tried to wade back out of the muck he had stepped in, but that sympathy waned as the governor stepped back in with no better sense of his three departments earmarked for elimination than he did when he started.
Politicians are hardly the only ones who run the danger of stepping into a PR minefield.can say the wrong thing, and can be arrested for embezzlement, sending their staffs into a tizzy of damage control. Often, the crisis is sparked by the public face of the party or the institution, but the real damage comes from the fact that the organization behind that face is not ready to contend with such contingencies.
Heidi Cohen has writtenof how Perry’s snafu should inspire businesses and nonprofits to prepare for their own PR crises that will inevitably come up some day. As she so well pointed out on Clickz.com, the real blunder was not made on stage but off it, and made not by Perry but by Perry’s advisors. Their tardy response (taking over five hours to respond on their website, for example) allowed the gaffe ample space to grow into a full conflagration.
Is your organization prepared to deal with an untimely comment or a shock resignation? The preparation need not be a list of press releases targeted to each contingency, but it should at least consist of a chain-of-command to jump on such issues. The likelihood that your nonprofit’s problem will go viral to the same degree a politician’s sexual-harassment accusations do is unlikely, but in the age of social networks, letting the problem simmer will only make the problem much worse.