Saturday, August 27, 2005

Candidate Pirro Can Recover from an Embarrassing Start

New Yorker Jeanine Pirro recently announced her candidacy for the United States Senate seat currently held by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The announcement didn’t go smoothly. In front of dozens of cameras at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, she choked.

As she was about to launch into a stinging attack against Clinton, she noticed that a page of her speech had disappeared. For 30 long seconds, the reporters and cameras recorded silence and confusion. It sounded something like this:

"Hillary Clinton…..(sounds of shuffling papers)….more silence, more shuffling….finally, she asks an aide, "Do you have page 10?"

The missing page finally found, she continued, but the damage to her campaign, and her credibility, were probably huge. First impressions do count, after all.

Pirro, a NY District Attorney, may have enough problems with the New York Republican Party as it is. During that same speech, she touted her liberal views on social issues by saying she has “a broad blue stripes,” referring to the Democratic “blue state” of New York.

But this unfortunate event will likely highlight the unpolished nature of an otherwise well-spoken D.A.’s campaign, and some will question whether she’s ready to go up against Clinton, who’s clearly more polished and is quite charming in front of reporters.

It doesn’t help that her husband, Albert Pirro, served 11 months in prison on tax evasion charges, convicted along with his brother, Anthony. Her Website has photos of both Sean Hannity and Robert Kennedy, Jr., probably a first for a Republican.

NY Democrats have already pounced on her gaff, publishing the video of the announcement online, titling the 30 seconds of silence, “Jeanine Pirro’s positive vision for New York,” and ending the clip saying, “Without a script, she’s speechless.”

In fact, the criticism is unfair. While most candidate don’t really like using canned speeches, an announcement speech is one you really do want to read word-for-word. It’s that important. Her staff should be blamed, not her. For God's sake, people, have an extra copy of the speech handy!

But to avoid the impression that she’s headed towards being another Rick Lazio (the GOP nominee who was trounced by Clinton in 2000) or that she can’t think on her feet, she should quickly make light of the situation and herself, showing she has a sense of humor.

She should then do as many unscripted press conferences as possible in the early stages of the campaign, to show that she has the ability to think on her feet - skills she surely has as a New York D.A.

Campaigns that start badly can definitely be saved. Maybe she can pull this off yet. Time will tell.

Joe McQuaid Meets the Bully Bill - How He Can Win The Rematch

Union Leader Publisher Joseph McQuaid recently went to the mat with Fox TV commentator Bill O’Reilly over O’Reilly’s criticism of the paper’s stand on the Jessica Lunsford bill.

As written, the Florida law the bill is based upon requires mandatory sentences for sex offenders. It’s named for the 9-year-old Florida girl who was killed this March by a sex offender living near her home.

McQuaid went on the show after O’Reilly criticized the paper’s editorial calling for the state to review the 85-page bill before signing onto it. Before McQuaid’s Aug. 24, appearance on the show, the paper had responded effectively by attacking O’Reilly’s bullying tactics and distortion of the facts in an editorial.

Was Joe McQuaid right when he wrote that the state should study the bill first, not adopt it without hardly looking at it? Yes.

But on television, his properly nuanced strategy for reviewing legislation and polite New Hampshire demeanor didn't work very well, and he looked defensive and unprepared for O’Reilly’s inevitable angry assault.

Perhaps no one can be fully prepared for it, since Bill the Bully is known for yelling over guests' comments and interrupting incessantly, then graciously giving the guest “the last word.” But I suppose if McQuaid had had some talking points handy, and said, "You know, we don't necessarily oppose the bill, we just think an 85-page bill needs to be reviewed first," it would have diffused some of O’Reilly’s angry tirade. Maybe.

Bringing up the fact that the Union Leader posted a list of sex offenders on its Website years ago would also have added to the paper’s credibility.

Instead, saying they’d review the bill, "New Hampshire way" (which I suppose loosely applies to the legislation in question) opened McQuaid up to Bill's great (but inaccurate) one-liners about NH being a state that refuses to be tough on criminals.

And whatever you think of them, to paint the Union Leader as a liberal, soft-on-crime paper is ludicrous.

McQuaid straying into the off-camera banter between himself and O’Reilly’s staff was not clearly understood by viewers, either. It was interpreted as someone complaining about “behind the scenes” things, and took away time from the main issue. As it turned out, O’Reilly breezed past the criticism and went back on the attack, as a skilled debater and veteran TV pundit knows to do.

In short, the attacks were unfair, but if Joe McQuaid goes back on the show, he should play hardball and have talking points ready. This ain't a newspaper column, it's the Great TV Arena, and Bill the Bully is the head gladiator there.

But with right on his side, he can lay waste to him.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Welcome the Abbott Public Relations blog.

I will use this blog to occasionally post thoughts on the public relations profession as it relates to current events and/or to New Hampshire.

And I do mean "occasionally." There is no Daily Post Guarantee here. However, my dislike of coming across stale blogs and Websites online would prompt me to delete the blog after a year or so of no posts.

The blog will also play host to news releases and statements from APR. Any new developments in the company will be broadcast here first. And some changes are afoot for the second half of the year.

Also feel free to visit
for a complete overview of a work portfolio and a biography of Stephen Abbott.

Comments and suggestions are welcome here, but spam will be blocked.