Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s first international foray has not gone well. He got off to a bad start in England. His questions about the state of preparedness of the London Olympics earned ‘Mitt the Twit’ headlines in the media and a public putdown from Prime Minister David Cameron.
On to Israel, where he was accused of racism after declaring that ‘cultural differences’ explained why Israel’s economy was so much healthier than that of Palestinians.
So, with his messaging looking shaky, he arrived in Poland. And that’s where the wheels really fell off his media machine.
Reporters from CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post asked Romney about the gaffes that had earned him negative headlines.
At which point Romney’s press secretary, Rick Gorka, intervened. “Kiss my ass,” he told the journalists. And just to hammer home his message, he added “shove it.” Gorka later called the journalists to apologise for his outburst. But of course that was too late to prevent more damaging headlines.
Romney later complained to Fox News that journalists had been more interested in ‘finding something to write about’ than reporting on the economy and security issues.
It’s easy to blame the media. But Romney and his media advisors have only themselves to blame.
The would-be president took only three questions from reporters during his six day trip. So he missed the opportunity to deliver his message and establish his narrative for the trip.
If he is not feeding newsworthy lines to reporters, who are only on the trip to write about him, he shouldn’t be surprised if they look elsewhere for headlines.
And if his messaging is as uncertain as it was on this trip, he has only himself to blame for a European visit where the perceived narrative was about Mitt the Twit rather than a President-in-Waiting.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.