Romney Press Aide Snaps in Poland, Learns a PR Lesson


Mitt Romney

Is it ever a good thing to lose your cool with a journalist? Rick Gorka, the traveling press secretary for Mitt Romney, probably asked himself that very question Tuesday, July 31 after tangling with reporters who are following Romney on his overseas trip.

In Warsaw, Poland, on a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reporters from CNN, The New York Times, Politico and other outlets were yelling out questions to Romney as he was heading towards a car to leave the scene. Gorka responded with “kiss my a**” and told Politico reporter Jonathan Martin to “shove it.”

In looking closer at the incident, frustration existed on both sides. In reporting about the incident on CNN’s broadcast channel, national political reporter Jim Acosta complained that in the three countries Romney has visited on his week-long trip, he’s answered a total of three questions from the press pool. Acosta said Tuesday was the final opportunity for the group to get some questions answered. The reporters are baffled at why so few answers have come from Romney on the trip.

Then again, the questions shouted out on Tuesday weren’t quite the kind the Romney camp would want to address. In a transcript of the exchange posted on CNN, the majority of the questions centered about gaffes that Romney has made on the trip—obviously a topic that Romney would avoid like the plague.

Gorka quickly realized that he made a mistake, calling reporters later to apologize for his outburst. But from a media relations standpoint, the damage was done—the story quickly spread via major news outlets. So the lesson here is even if you may be a little jet-lagged and frustrated by reporters’ questions, it’s best to keep your cool.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01



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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.



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