Herman Cain allowed what could have been a short lived news story about sexual harassment allegations to force him to drop out of the race. The issue didn’t go away simply because he wanted it to.
The longer one waits to take control of allegations, and avoid the questions the more damage one does. The truth will come out and one often needs to tell the story, get out in front of the story and tell the truth -- exactly what he knows to defuse reporters and take the wind out of their sails.
Let’s look at 2 recent crisis PR nightmares involving sexual allegations – also no one accused of a crime:
• Take disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner – who until his “sexting” scandal was regarded as the leading candidate for Mayor of NYC - Had Weiner told the truth from Day 1, the story may have been limited and not exploded. His wife stood by him, he didn’t break any laws and his issue may have passed – rather than the formerly brash outspoken Weiner being broken before our eyes in the media.
• Let’s take the oft-discussed Tiger Woods crisis at face value. He cheated on his wife (unethical but not terribly unusual, some statistics say 50 percent of married people cheat on their spouses), and was caught in a dramatic scene in late November 2009. He smashed his car on his own property and was treated and released from a local hospital for minor injuries. There’s no video of the car crash, no film of him with any other women, and no felony committed. Big story? Yes, certainly. . . a three- or four-day story, but not likely to become the biggest scandal of the last 10 years or so. The main reason the story lasted so long in the press? The story had legs because Woods waited too long to address the questions and the controversy. (And the mystery continued unanswered.) The story just kept building and simmering.
Sex and powerful people is always a tantalizing story. The media and attention simply doesn’t go away because someone wants it to. As the owner of a PR Firm we have worked with many high-profile people, including politicians, celebrities and CEO’s – the story always comes out.
Past semi-finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Ronn Torossian owns 5WPR.