Last Friday (in a strategically timed late afternoon press release), the Romney campaign finally released a tax return, in response to months and months of his opponents pushing for him to do so (and a hacker group announcing they had a copy of their own).
I mean seriously, Rom, it took you longer to fork this over than it did Obama to dig up his birth certificate (and we all knew which one of those things was a more legitimate, issue based, request, right?).
One of the problems with the tardy Romney release, regardless of what it said (read this article for all the non-juicy details), is that it came, oh, less than 50 days before D-day. And, since he has taken such a long time to come clean with the American people, guess who is more fired up to find something scathing within the documents? If he had just let us have the stuff a year ago, we’d be over it by now.
So what can we learn from this PR misstep?
At some point in your career you’re going to be faced with questions that you may not want to answer, for whatever reason, justifiable or not. These questions may be from the press. Or they may be from partners.
You can try to avoid them and see if they go away . . . but most likely, if it’s an important enough issue, your avoidance will only increase the other party’s desire to get an answer. Keep avoiding, and you’ll end up like Romney, getting forced into a corner and having to give the answers to a more venomous public at a very non-convenient time.
No, better to answer when first (or second) asked, so you don’t appear defensive, and so you have plenty of time to explain/spin your response, and so your answer has time to dissipate.
Or better yet, answer before there is even a question.
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