Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reasons to Outride the Redcoats

Listen my Children and You Shall Hear………………

Well, this week was just filled with communication goodies/disasters. From the Herman Cain/Gloria Alridge press conference, to the University of Pennsylvania's football child sex scandal, to the Oakland mayor's response to an Occupy Wall Street protest turned violent, to Rick Perry's presidential debate brain freeze. The difficulty of making a consistently good presentation and articulating a consistent message were front and center in the media.

Perry's memory lapse will live on in YouTube in clips such as "Watch Rick Perry's Campaign End Before Your Eyes" and "Rick Perry's Big Oops." Newt Gingrich put a human face on the unfortunate incident. He supported Perry's forgetfulness with compassion and freely admitted that he feared a memory lapse whenever he was in front of an audience. Newt's candor was admirable and helped neutralize the press attack dog antics.

To salvage his candidacy, the morning after last week's presidential debate, Rick Perry pushed back on the Redcoats and blitzed the morning and afternoon TV talk shows (as well as late night's Letterman) to apologize and make fun of himself as not much of a debater. He may have actually done himself some good, as the impression that emerged was that of an extremely likeable guy with a good sense of comedic timing.

The press worked hard to kick Perry to the curb. But he got up, dusted himself off and came back slugging. I have a feeling that's not unfamiliar territory for Rick Perry, who grew up the son of two hardscrabble West Texas tenant farmers. Perry, no doubt, had a few slugfests on his journey to Texas A&M.

So what are we to make of this media chaos? Campaigning for the presidency is not a sprint; it's a marathon. It takes a plan and lots of practice—as I well know, having run a marathon a few months ago.

A well-defined plan should include a crisis management strategy and regular video training drills. Herman Cain was late—perhaps too late to embrace crisis handlers—but Rick Perry has had an army of consultants from probably day one. It shows in his quick response to what might have been a real game changer for him.

Much has been written about Rick Perry as a ten-year governor of Texas. His press and speaking skills were rusty, and he had to get on a fast track quickly. He has proved up to the challenge, so now it will be interesting to see if he can move up in the polls.

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