The story ran on page one of the Herald and the Associated Press picked it up. Within two weeks, it had found its way into The New York Times. (There was no worldwide Internet in those days. The only things that spread virally were illnesses, gossip and bad jokes.)
By then, however, Clinton’s famous "War Room" had acted. The candidate apologized succinctly and his campaign defused the issue by rallying prominent African-American friends and supporters.
Nineteen years later, watching presidential candidate Herman Cain flounder under the weight of sexual harassment allegations, you begin to wonder how many scandals it will take for anyone to heed the basic rules of engagement in issues management and crisis communications.
Individuals and enterprises operating in the public spotlight must be prepared to react quickly to their flaws, real or perceived. Accomplishing that is three-step process. Take a hard look at yourself from the perspective of stakeholders. Use those findings to create an uncompromising list of the issues, policies and activities that could be controversial or damaging. Fix what you can and be ready to refute or rebut each item on the list in a compelling, credible and articulate fashion.
Not all political strategies translate well in the business world, but issues and crisis management is one that does, as Herman Cain has learned all too well.