Mark Grimm


Mitt’s $10,000 Mistake: Ammunition for the Class Warfare Crowd

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney offered to bet opponent Gov. Rick Perry $10,000 over a dispute involving Romney’s book. Who makes $10,000 bets? This debate moment will be rerun a thousand times by Obama loyalists who are counting on class warfare to re-elect the president.

In the midst of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Romney is vulnerable on the “Fat Cat” issue because of his wealth. The size of the bet makes Romney appear out of touch with working Americans, many of whom spend three months trying to earn that much. The fact Romney didn’t see that is a blind spot he must address…soon.

Substantively, of course, Romney’s experience and his plans to fix the economy so working people can actually find good jobs should carry far more weight in the battle for the presidency. And Obama’s class warfare strategy is due to the problem his record of high unemployment and runaway debt cannot really be defended. But debate moments matter —- like Gore’s sighs, Bush 41 checking his watch, and Rick Lazio invading Hillary’s space. Romney has to respond by showing “he gets it.”

Any bets he can do it successfully?

The writer is a political consultant, elected official, and public speaking coach.

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Lesson Learned: SU Coach Boeheim May Have Saved Job

I told Syracuse radio station WSYR Thursday I thought Syracuse University Coach Jim Boeheim’s disastrous press conference Tuesday put his job in jeopardy and he needed to do a few things immediately to recover. The next day, Coach Boeheim may have saved his job with his new response.

This development offers us a valuable lesson in crisis communication. I’d like to break it down to make it a more instructive experience. Here’s what I felt was needed and what Coach Boeheim did:

1-Grimm on Thursday:
Coach Boeheim must apologize by saying he made a big mistake when he verbally attacked the alleged victims and should have waited to all the facts were in.
Boeheim on Friday:
“I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made. I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that and I regret any harm I caused.”

2-Grimm on Thursday:
I said the coach’s misguided loyalty was harmful because he had a higher duty to ensure no stone was left unturned to protect children.
Boeheim on Friday:
“What I said last week was out of loyalty. I reacted without thinking. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’m trying to learn from my mistake.”

3-Grimm on Thursday:
Coach Boeheim should have sought prior professional communication help and not relied on just a friend to help him prepare Tuesday’s remarks.
Boeheim on Friday:
“I have talked to some people today and yesterday about what I was going to say. These are my thoughts. I am not good enough to put them down on paper. I just am not.”

4-Grimm on Thursday:
Once the coach apologizes, he should not say anything else until all the facts are in.
Boeheim on Friday:
“That’s all I can say. There is an investigation going on which I fully support because we all need to know as much as we can what happened.”

I believe Coach Boeheim’s contrition was genuine. His Friday press conference went a long way to reverse the damage from his previous statements. As an SU alum, I was glad to see it. As a rookie sportscaster in 1980, Coach Boeheim was considerate and respectful to me. It was a genuine kindness I have not forgotten.

Ultimately, the coach’s fate will be decided on what the investigation uncovers, namely, did he have any knowledge of what happened, and even if he didn’t, how was it he didn’t know on his watch? For now, those questions remain unanswered. But for the moment, he remains doing what he does best, coaching the Orange.

Note: The writer, a former TV anchor and adjunct Siena journalism professor, received his master’s degree in public communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University in 1979.
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Black Eye for the Orange: Coach Boeheim’s Self Inflicted Wound

Misguided loyalty has placed Syracuse University hoop coach Jim Boeheim’s job in jeopardy and given a black eye to the university.

Boeheim’s self inflicted wound occurred last week when he said alleged sex abuse victims were liars involving the case of his assistant, Bernie Fine. However, Fine was fired just a few days later and Boeheim said he supported the dismissal.

In most cases, standing by an old friend would be admired. But Boeheim had a higher duty, to leave no stone unturned to ensure no abuse of children ever took place under his watch. He now insists it is inappropriate to comment on the case “until the investigation is complete.” If only he had followed his own advice last week.

We don’t know all the facts yet. But we do know Syracuse officials feel they knew enough to fire Fine. In any case, the Penn State and Syracuse cases are stunning examples of poor crisis communication. Both failed to uncover the full stories on their crisis years before and both failed to brush aside personal loyalties and devotion to sports programs to reveal the full extent of the damage done. I wonder if more revelations from other universities lie ahead. Do you?

Note: The writer received his master’s degree in public communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University in 1979.

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