What We Learned From Herman Cain

The country has been captivated by the drama that has unfolded during Herman Cain’s Presidential campaign. As you’ve heard, many accusers have come forward alleging that Mr. Cain sexually harassed them. Recently, a woman came forward and stated that her and Cain had an affair for 13 years.  Up until recently Cain deflected these accusations and withstood the criticism. Since the most recent accuser, Mr. Cain has suspended his campaign, saying that the media has treated him unfairly and it has taken a toll on his family. Mr. Cain still denies all the sexual accusations. 


What can we learn from a public relations standpoint about Herman Cain? How could he have retained the public trust after all these allegations? There is no concrete answer to how Mr. Cain should’ve handled this crisis or if he did anything wrong in handling it the way he did.  The best way to take on these allegations is to clearly state to the audience your innocence or guilt.  Mr. Cain wasn’t as clear as he should’ve been. When politico.com first ran a story about the first two Cain accusers, they gave Cain and his campaign ten days to respond. Cain failed to do so and the story ran anyway.  When asked what he thought about the article shortly after it was published, Cain seemed unprepared and unaware that such an article existed. These allegations are damaging enough, but more damage was done when his campaign failed to comment and prepare for the repercussions.  When facing something like this a candidate has to be clear, honest and straight to the point.  A candidate can’t deflect these questions if he truly believes he is innocent. Cain must have felt like if he dodged certain questions that this would all go away. That wasn’t the case. He dodged so much that more and more accusers came forward until he was forced to make a statement and ultimately forced to suspend his campaign.  Clear and honest communication to the public is always the best route to take.