Politics is a slick business. We know this, you know this…everybody knows this. But a little bit of investigative reporting by the Tampa Bay Times that exposed a few poorly planned moves on behalf of Florida governor Rick Scott reveals the kind of weird PR that we’ve unfortunately come to expect from our elected officials.
Mr. Scott wanted to improve his image in the eyes of Florida voters during his gubernatorial campaign, so he bought a rescued Labrador retriever. After he won the election, he did what any responsible dog-lover would do: he returned the lab to its previous owner. Wait, what?
Scott didn’t just buy the dog:
He took to Facebook, running a “contest” and asking fans to help him come up with a name for the pup. According to the Times, some even congratulated him for buying a rescue rather than a purebred.
We understand that candidates pull this sort of BS all the time, but the Scott PR team’s response to the paper’s inquiries was in poor form.
Asked last week what had happened to the dog, Scott’s current and former communications directors refused to answer.
Why might that be? The former communications director later wrote that he recognized the “potential for a PR nightmare if the Tampa Bay Times doesn’t receive a photo of Reagan” and that he was “looking for an answer”. Then he referred reporters to the current director, who again refused to respond to their questions. And Gawker got on the case as soon as the story broke.
Scott now says that he had to return the dog because it “scared the living daylights” out of staffers and that his family later replaced it with another Lab named Tallee while neglecting to mention anything to the hundreds of supporters who followed the Reagan story.
Yeah, OK, but this was still very sloppy PR. His communications team should have known better.