Someone would have to live under a rock – in fact, several rocks, to be unaware of all the rumors and innuendos floating around about the health of Hillary Clinton. There have been lots of educated guessing about complications to a concussion she received a few years ago, or a neurological condition. The Clinton camp keeps denying or playing down health problems only to confess later to things being worse, but not terrible.
The 9/11 memorial this last week started another volley of guesses about her health problems. The responses came fast. First it was explained as a reaction to the heat during the service, then it was dehydration, which Bill confirmed, saying she has fainted from dehydration problems over the years more than once, and then the explanation that she had previously been diagnosed with pneumonia came through. People still don’t know what to believe – or if any of the answers provided are worth believing, but then the next question was raised.
That woman in the blue suit standing next to Hillary through the ceremony and near the curb after Hillary, her secret service band, and other aides left unexpectedly before the memorial ended, and waited for her motorcade to arrive. Was she a nurse for the Presidential candidate?
Turns out – No. The woman in blue is none other than Christine Falvo, who worked previously for Hillary as an aide and was doing volunteer PR duty at the 9/11 event. Falvo currently works at Rubenstein Communications as the Chief Operating Officer.
Both Falvo and Clinton are Wellesley graduates, and before working at Rubenstein, Falvo worked for Hillary when she was a junior senator from 2001 through 2007, as well as at Foggy Bottom for six months advising Secretary Clinton after she became Secretary of State.
Falvo is not one of Clinton’s regular PR staff, but who is giving her guidance on these matters? Is Clinton listening to what they say, or ignoring their advice? If they are telling her to just keep denying things until forced to be more open, they lack the skills for effective crisis communications. Make no mistake; her campaign is in the middle of several crises. In June one Fox News poll reported that 60% of Americans believe she’s a liar and is less honest than Trump. Who knows if that is true, but the public perception when it comes to a Presidential election is a major issue. With so many already believing she has issues with the truth, to not make full public disclosure about her health is an equally bad choice.
Even if the worst rumors are true, letting speculation continue for weeks is causing much more havoc than if she ripped the band-aid off and honestly shared. Unaddressed, the wound festers and causes long-term damage to her aspirations as well as her credibility. Whatever the problems, just turn over the information and be done with it, stop hemming and hawing, releasing only bits and pieces. For those in business, if you face a PR crisis, learn this from the bad reaction she’s facing. Be transparent and move on from the problem or keep it in the shadows so people can keep digging and clawing at it to find what they want to know.