Over the past three weeks it has been near impossible to watch, read or listen to anything that isn’t in some way Olympic related. All the usual news sources were dominated by the vast array of Team GB’s successes. However whilst we were being dazzled by the growing array of Olympic coverage, other equally intriguing news stories were being overlooked.
One that particularly caught my eye, from a PR point of view especially, was that of Mitt Romney’s recent and at best calamitous international tour. His ‘insult-the-world-tour’ (as the Guardian described it) was a repeat candidate for BlueSky’s dreaded PR Fail of the week award. In the space of two weeks Romney seemed to successfully alienate and offend key diplomatic allies in both spectacular and bewildering fashion.
Being a member of the campaign team that follows any potential US President is inevitably going to produce more sleepless nights than the average PR job. However Mr Romney appears to have been on a mission to ensure his campaign team become insomniacs! Fair enough his visit to the UK was amidst the G4S scandal and considerable negative press leading up to the Olympics. But I would be intrigued to know who saw it fitting for Mr Romney to add to this negativity by claiming there were "disconcerting" signs about the preparations for the Games. I’m pretty sure no campaign team would highlight offending your potential closest ally to be a key objective of any international tour.
Then there was the public and unashamed insult towards Palestine, claiming that the reason for Israel’s comparable economic success was down to "cultural" differences and the "hand of providence", and then dared to declare Jerusalem to be "the capital of Israel". Now it is by no means controversial for an American presidential candidate to cosy up to Israel, however anyone with the briefest knowledge of the Israel-Palestine conflict would be aware how inflammatory these comments are.
As a final touch to Romney’s international tour - aimed at promoting his suitability as a diplomat and potential leader of world politics - he thought the best way to demonstrate this was by popping over to Poland and having a dig at the Russians, describing the nation as a "country where the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression.” Seeing as he had already insulted the majority of America’s most fragile relationships, I guess Russia was the next logical step.
So to the PR team in charge of Mitt Romney; learn your history lessons, learn you lessons in public relations, and above all do everything you can to stay out of BlueSky’s PR fail of the week. Thank you!