If I had a dollar for every time a colleague came up to me and suggested that I perform some public relations magic that overcomes a well-chronicled FUBAR, I would be a very rich hombre.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the implied compliment. It is just in certain cases there comes a point when a debacle has passed the point of PR no return. The party in question cannot be saved by effective use of strategic communications. Instead, the situation requires an outright miracle…and PR pros cannot walk on water or change water into wine (even though some egos will claim they have these powers in the name of billable hours).

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is one of these cases. Even prison inmates have a caste system, and child molesters are the low-of-the-low. Even though this sounds cruel, his life is over. He cannot be saved with an infinite amount of spin or even divine intervention.

A less egregious case (alleged child molestation is hard to surpass when it comes to despicability) is former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. What was he thinking when he decided to tweet his junk to coeds across the fruited plain? Do you think any self-respecting public relations pro would want to develop an Anthony Weiner comeback campaign? Hmmm…Let’s start with an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor”…that will garner some media attention. Maybe Jon Stewart and “60 Minutes” will be interested as well?

OJChase

There are literally dozens of other instances in which the public relations atrocity is beyond the pale. The individual or individuals simply cannot be rescued, and in most cases they do not deserve to be saved. Mike Tyson bit off the ear of Evander Holyfield; OJ Simpson dodged the law once, but failed the second time and remains in the slam; Dominic Strauss-Kahn may have been acquitted, but the image of him charging buck naked at a hotel chamber maid is frankly too much to even imagine. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s nationally televised brain fart, not remembering the third federal department he wants to abolish (that would be the Department of Energy, guvnah), cannot be spun into a positive. Pass the chicken salad.

Having acknowledged that certain people do not deserve to be saved (my list above is way too short, but you get the idea), there are some cases in which time can serve as a healer. For those of you mature enough to remember, Richard Nixon gave his “last press conference” in 1962, was elected president six years later and then resigned in disgrace six years after that. His career was the ultimate Dow Joneser from a public relations standpoint.

Nixon

How many wrote off golf superstar Tiger Woods after his 19th hole activities with a bevy of beauties was revealed? He lost his personal PR campaign to save his marriage, but the focus has returned to his golf game and his place among the best players ever to play in the sport’s grand slam tournaments.

Kim Kardashian’s 72-day “marriage” to basketball stud Kris Humphries (seemed like 10 minutes) will only contribute to her attention-society persona and her handlers will figure out even more intriguing ways to cater to the those obsessed with le affaire of the Thirty-Mile Zone.

Today, we all read about the failure of the congressional super committee to tame the nation’s $15 trillion deficit. The market responded by selling off to the tune of 248 points, but one suspects this stalemate was already baked into the numbers. Now it is time for the blame game between the talking heads of both parties.

One of the key methodologies of crisis communications is to immediately point to the future, making today’s bad news, old news. “Yes, yes, the super committee was hopelessly deadlocked, but we still have a whopping deficit…so what should we do about it?” Keep in mind that those that trade in information (e.g. editors, reporters, correspondents, bloggers, analysts, commentators) always want to know what comes next (e.g. what will the market do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year). Once one presidential election is in the books, the question is who will win four years later? Hmmm…you just won the world title, can you repeat?…

As a society our memories are relatively short. Richard Nixon had a future after losing to Pat Brown in 1962. Tiger Woods has another tournament to play. Mizz Kardashian has another party to make an appearance and what will she not be wearing? There is even a future for AH-Nold Schwarzenegger and his over-eager Schlange, just not in politics. Will POTUS convene another deficit reduction committee? Wasn’t his jobs bill expected to be funded by “savings” identified by the congressional deficit-reduction committee? Sorry for the digression.

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And then there is Jerry Sandusky. Everyone deserves a fair trial. He will have an attorney, and his day in court. For him, there is most likely a prison cell and the people who already live in the same penitentiary, and they don’t like those who molest children. There will be no one to give him PR advice, because quite frankly (if proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty) he does not deserve PR counsel…let alone miracle workers.

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