We’ve all had our “ummm” moments that we can’t explain even though we knew what we needed to say; and for some, those moments can be damaging and consequential. Last week while I was watching the Republican presidential debate on CNBC, I saw Governor Rick Perry make his now infamous stumble over what state departments he would eliminate. I knew the media would have a field day with this mistake. In fact, many mainstream media sources have gone as far as saying that Perry no longer has any chance of winning the race, and they’re most likely right.
In response, the Perry campaign has gone on a public relations campaign over the past week in an attempt to regain some momentum. Perry’s first response came through various media channels where he had a chance to clear up his comments in person, and afterwards the Perry campaign created the “Forget Me Not” media campaign. The first part of the plan was to send an email to the Perry supporters asking them which federal agency they wanted gone. After that, members of the Perry campaign went to Twitter and created the #forgetmenot hashtag to bring more awareness to the campaign.
I personally have many problems with this response and its effectiveness, and I think that some of the methods go against the campaign’s values. To begin with, most of the mainstream media knew that Perry meant the Department of Energy since it wasn’t the first time he had talked about eliminating this department. For the Perry campaign to go out and start asking their supporters which agency they wanted gone seems to go against the campaign’s values. It’s almost like saying because Perry made a mistake in the debate, the Perry campaign gives their supporters the right to change one of Perry’s policies. And that’s essentially saying that Perry isn’t as committed to his policies as he is to appeasing his supporters, which isn’t a message any president should be putting out there.
I also question the effectiveness of creating a Twitter hashtag and hoping it becomes trendy. There is no guaranteed way of making a hashtag trendy, and the Perry campaign should have tried other methods to gain awareness. And to add more insult to injury, the governor’s only use of the hashtag was in a joke he made from his official Twitter account about forgetting the time. It’s almost as if no one was taking this seriously. In my opinion, this was one bad PR move after another and the sad part is that the Perry campaign doesn’t even know it.