Posted by: Ian Ross | March 25, 2008

A PR Tale Of Two NY Governors

Two New York governors. Two different communication strategies to deal with naughty behaviour. One bad. One good.

Eliott Spitzer’s effort seemed abysmal. He found out that the gig was up three days before the New York Times broke the story; yet he appeared to lack a game plan. His answer was a very short 150-word public statement. While he apologized to his family and the public (sort of), he admitted no guilt and took no questions. Giovanni Rodriguez commented that the “narrative was vague, incomplete, and left too many points unanswered.” And then there was the lower-lip-over-upper-lip smug look – an image published in hundreds of newspapers and broadcast on plenty of television stations. 

Spitzer followed the next day with another vague statement and his resignation. And little else. Some politicians have resurrected their careers after very stupid behaviour. Spitzer’s cold, short and distant public statements make that unlikely for him.

On the flip side, the new governor David Paterson got out in front of his errors in judgement. One day after taking the oath of office, he and his wife spoke publicly about how they cheated on each other before seeking counselling to strengthen their marriage. Over the past few days, Paterson has also addressed doing cocaine and other drugs in his youth. Both times, he got his messages out first, answered questions from the media and made you feel that he learned from his actions.

Paterson’s comm strategy may help him survive and govern. Only time will tell.

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