Besides the onslaught of negative coverage the Republican National Committee received in light of one of its former staffers running a $2,000 tab at a popular erotica nightclub, the RNC now has to contend with the real possibility of losing donors as they prepare for fall elections.
The fallout from this scandal revealed the RNC to be unprepared in more ways than one. It wasn’t enough that Allison Meyers the Young Eagles director who attempted to get political consultant, Erik Brown reimbursed for their entertainment at the nightclub already had some kind of track record of seeking reimbursement for outlandish expenses. The RNC had to wait until such actions were public before doing anything constructive about it. And when the scandal did become front-page news, the RNC’s moves wasn’t one of decisiveness. Try silence. Foot-dragging. Perhaps, even trepidation was more like it. Here are some lessons we can take away from this public relations disaster.
Nip mistakes in the bud: Some action, any action, should have been taken and documented in the wake of Meyers seeking reimbursements for past expenses that raised an eyebrow or two. Such a track record would have stood the RNC in better stead than trying to simultaneously deal with the problem internally as well as in the media. If they had been able to show that they had rejected previous reimbursement claims and/or had previously issued warning s to Meyers on the matter, the RNC would have been negotiating with the media from a different vantage point.
Investigate and share findings: What exactly did Meyers and her cohorts do at the nightclub? Did she just take them there because of the novelty of the spot and they simply had drinks at a bar there? To what extent did they partake of the club’s other assorted services? While we don’t condone using party funds to indulge in these kinds of activities, it’s no secret the media can be overzealous. Catching red-handed a member of a party which advocates for strong family values and conservativeness in this kind of act would make most journalists salivate. The point is, when the news broke the media had already pronounced the nightclub a S&M and bondage club. The club itself denies this classification and bills itself a high-end erotica spot, instead. Which one is it? This is where the RNC could have taken control and used the opportunity to denounce everything that transpired at that nightclub rather than be locked in a reactive stance.
Resist the urge to go on the defensive: Yes, there’s sometimes a fine line between telling your story and going on the defensive, but the RNC’s initial response was knee-jerk at best. Subsequent actions simply boxed them in the corner with seemingly no way out. But the party’s move to hold up and criticize legitimate (if a tad extravagant) expenses the Democratic National Committee had racked up locked them in that box and threw away the key. It almost goes without saying that in a crisis situation all attention needs to be focused on resolving the problem at hand not calling attention to another’s problem or lack thereof. Unfortunately, this only served to undermine the RNC’s reputation which is quite regrettable given the precarious hole them had already dug themselves into.