Anthony Weiner: Political Public Relations fail

Ashlee Bross


On Friday May 27, 2011, former New York Representative Anthony Weiner used his twitter account to send scandalous pictures of himself. When his infidelity became public knowledge, Anthony Weiner made many mistakes in how he handled himself. He could have used several public relations tactics to save his political career and reputation.

One of the first mistakes that Weiner's public relations team made is not reacting quickly to take control of the story. The news is first reported on May 28th. A spokesperson for wiener denies the photos are real, but Weiner himself does not make any comments. Weiner makes his first talk show appearance on June 1st, after avoiding the media for several days. He says that he is not certain the photos are of him. Below is the video of this first interview. He comes across as unprepared. As the next week goes on it becomes more clear that he is guilty and has been lying.

America has a history of forgiving married politicians who are involved in sex scandals. Bill Clinton's presidency survived after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, even though he also lied about it first. Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II. Wiener could have taken several roads to revamp his reputation from this kind of scandal. I believe if he had handled the situation differently he could have saved his job and career.

How to avoid Resignation: Public Relations Tactics

  • Publicly Apologizing would be the first thing to do. Anthony Weiner needs to keep his Publics in mind. These are his target audiences. The audience he is trying to reach are the people who elected him, the media, and his peers in Washington. Telling the whole truth is very important, as he is an elected official. It is important to keep the trust of the people. It would have been best to apologize the second the story made news and tell the truth quickly. A press conference would have been ideal.
  • Staying ahead of the story is very important. It is better to have all the bad news released from Weiner's camp than to let TMZ release it. This way you are in control of how the media receives the information and displays it to their viewers. A press conference, news release, and even a video news release should be put written and released to get the information out to the media first.
  • Viral marketing and integrated marketing communications strategies should be implemented to start damage control. Pictures and videos of Weiner and his pregnant wife should be everywhere. People should see him as a family man and a loving husband. His wife is very important to how people will perceive the issue. She should be seen with him frequently and she should also be interviewed.
  • As Weiner is a congressman it is important to show him working hard to get popular public policies passed. Interviews that he does do should focus on himself, but also on the issues that are crucial at the time. Highlighting his past successes and good deeds as a public official would also be beneficial to his image.
  • Lastly, Weiner became an easy target for jokes. His last name alone adds to the humor of him sexting photos of himself. It would be better to show that he has a sense of humor about the whole issue and have him do some Late Night Talk Shows.

Anthony Weiner's PR Strategy

Anthony Weiner's PR strategy was to avoid the media and lie when they could not be avoided. Things got ugly for Anthony Weiner as more nude photos surfaced and women came forward saying he had made inappropriate contact with them. By June 6th, at a New York Press conference, he publicly apologized. He says, "This was me doing a dumb thing, and doing it repeatedly, and lying about it". By this time thought it was too little, too late. A House Ethics investigation began on him to see if he broke the rules and soon his resignation was being demanded. President Obama commented on the issue by saying, "Well, obviously what he did was highly inappropriate. I think he's embarrassed himself, he's acknowledged that, he's embarrassed his wife and his family. Ultimately there's going to be a decision for him and his constituents. I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign. Because public service is exactly that, it's a service to the public. And when you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can't serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills, then you should probably step back."

On June 16, 2011 Anthony Weiner resigned from Office.

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