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In Movies & TV Commentary

Herman Cain went back on TV to talk to HLN's Robin Meade.

OnMedia: The media lessons keep coming from Herman Cain


On Monday, I wrote about Herman Cain's misstep in using a viral video to spread his message, a message that turned into a head-scratcher about why campaign aide Mark Block ended the spot by puffing on a cigarette.

It was at least partly the sign of a presidential campaign that's not professionally staffed in the way most modern ones are.

That came home again, in a far more serious way, as the Republican presidential candidate responded, and responded and responded to questions about reports that two women who worked in the National Restaurant Association, which he ran in the 1990s, had complained about sexual harassment.

The story broke Sunday night in Politico, followed by the first Cain campaign response that none of it was true.

Through the day on Monday, Cain provided more and more details.

By Tuesday morning, he sat down for a long interview where he told HLN's Robin Meade that he hadn't "remembered" the details when the Politico piece appeared, and his memory apparently improved during the day.

Whether there's anything to this story or not is not as important as how Cain handled it. Crisis management is crucial in a constantly churning media environment.

So what are the crisis management lessons here? Let's list five of them:

1. Wait to respond intelligently. Those Sunday night denials were too early and ill-informed. And as more information came out, from Cain himself, that first response starts a timeline that doesn't look very good.

2. Do your homework. Cain's staff should have worked overnight Sunday to get all the details together by Monday. All the details. It shouldn't be up the candidate himself "remembering" details. Frankly, his memory doesn't seem so good, so depending on Cain's memory isn't a good approach.

3. Don't dribble out information. On Monday, Cain was letting out pieces of information here and there through his normal campaign schedule. Again, it added to that timeline of inconsistencies that news outlets have prepared.

4. Present your complete explanation. Your campaign staff presents you with the whole statement. Read it one time. You probably don't want to answer questions, and don't quibble whether it's a "settlement" or an "agreement" as Cain has done.

5. Shut up, and move on. Cain has been more accessible to TV than many of this crop of presidential candidates, especially since he surged in the polls. You're not likely to see Mitt Romney popping up on HLN on a weekday morning to talk with Meade, even when there's no crisis to manage.

But with a situation like this, where it seems the two women involved are not likely to speak out, there's a good chance there's no second-day story.

Unless you create it.

I'll have to see I haven't seen Cain as a serious contender, and it has nothing to do with politics. Listen to the reporters on the campaign trail and you learn that he doesn't have the campaign structure that's a modern-day necessity.

He's a likable character, witty and great on camera. A year from now, his campaign is likely to be just a footnote, and he'll have his show on Fox News Channel.

Speaking of Fox News, here's one of Cain's appearances on Fox News, talking about the allegations:

Adam Richman turns green and gold: The Travel Channel's "Man V. Food Nation" airs its second Wisconsin installment of the season at 8 tonight when Adam Richman visits Green Bay and spends some quality time with Gilbert Brown.

Let's hope he does better in the Frozen Tundra than he did here in Milwaukee.

Talkbacks

wiscoleeds | Nov. 2, 2011 at 11:54 a.m. (report)

Just like the current great pretender in the White House. The position shouldn't be filled by the most TV charismatic and savvy media hound. How about electing someone who is qualified to do the job. I look at the current Republican candidates and the incumbent and don't see ANYONE who fills that criteria. Sad. Cheers Wiscoleeds

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beefsupreme | Nov. 2, 2011 at 11:50 a.m. (report)

we don't need a fast talking business man. this country needs a doctor. there is only one running.

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TosaJim | Nov. 2, 2011 at 11:23 a.m. (report)

He's a showman...a publicity hound and a liar. Nuff said.

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