President Obama’s news conference on the IRS started about 20 minutes late yesterday. It’s not unusual for a president – or a governor or a mayor – to run behind schedule. They usually try to fill their days with as many events and activities as possible, and the demands of their jobs often send preset schedules off kilter.
But Obama’s tardiness yesterday came at a most inopportune time and represented a public relations miscue of sorts.
Because cameras already were set up at the White House, cable news viewers were shown the image of an empty podium while pundits discussed the president’s upcoming remarks. This created two problems. Read more…
Yesterday, I shared an example of a bad public relations practice. Today, we’ll examine a technique that worked very successfully – Angelina Jolie’s New York Times op-ed about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy because her doctors estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Why do I consider Jolie’s announcement a successful use of public relations? For starters, she used an op-ed as the vehicle to convey her message. Op-ed articles are one of the rare public relations tools that allow individuals and organizations to choose their own wording and phrasing when they communicate with the public. With it comes to press releases, press conferences, speeches, interviews and other public relations tools, the journalists who report those stories select the parts (if any) of those materials that make it into their news accounts.
I am a big baseball fan – a New York Mets fan to be exact, and that has not been easy the past few years. On the other hand, thanks to their colorful and controversial off-the-field activities, the Mets often provide valuable lessons in public relations, which I’m teaching at St. Bonaventure University over the next five weeks.
Over the years, the team has presented plenty of challenges for Jay Horwitz, the Mets’ vice president for public relations. He’s had to deal with players who were involved with illegal drugs, barroom brawls, sex scandals and countless additional unsavory activities. Read more…
Dick Codey made the right choice today when he decided not to enter this year’s gubernatorial campaign.
Despite his popularity, the odds of Codey defeating Chris Christie in November were slim. In fact, he wouldn’t even have been a lock to win the Democratic nomination, given the roles that powerbrokers and factions play in the party.
Had Codey been the Democratic standard-bearer, he would have been the target of negative campaigning and personal attacks over the course of the campaign. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for any candidate seeking office today.
But in Codey’s case, the content of attack ads (even if untrue or misleading) could – in the span of a few months – jeopardize the largely positive image he built during four decades in public life. He also runs the risk of tarnishing his legacy.
Instead, Codey takes a page from Jerry Seinfeld and moves toward the end of his public career on a positive note. “When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off,” the popular comedian explained in a Seinfeld episode titled “The Burning.”
Codey’s decision also could score him some points with Christie. A Codey-Christie contest would have been competitive and expensive. Codey’s now bought himself a bargaining chip with the front office.
Just how all of this plays out is uncertain, but with more than eight more months to go before Election Day, it looks like New Jersey is in for another interesting and unpredictable gubernatorial campaign.
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Anyone who believes the outcome of New Jersey’s next election for governor is a foregone conclusion has some compelling arguments to support that opinion. But the race is far from over.
To explore the possibilities, let’s start with the factors that make incumbent Republican Chris Christie a tough man to beat. Not only has Christie enjoyed high poll numbers since taking office in 2010, but in the aftermath of his performance in response to Hurricane Sandy, those numbers are higher than ever.
In recent polls, respondents gave Christie approval ratings of 73 percent (Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind) and 67 percent (Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press). In addition, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 67 percent of New Jersey voters feel Christie deserves re-election.
What bodes particularly well for the Republican governor is the support Democrats displayed in the polls.
Unlike the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, there was no clear cut winner in Thursday’s vice-presidential exchange. Polls and pundits are reaching varying conclusions, and each candidate scored enough points to convince his supporters that he came out on top.
From my perspective, I have to give the edge to Democrats, and here is why:
Much has been made of Vice President Joe Biden’s demeanor during the debate. He often was seen smiling, laughing and smirking while his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, was speaking. And Biden frequently interrupted the congressman to rebut and challenge his statements.
In fact, it is the vice president’s behavior that is dominating much of the conversation in the aftermath of the debate – not any of the substantive arguments either candidate made.
During the 90-minute exchange, Congressman Ryan repeatedly reminded viewers that the economy is suffering, that he feels the Obama Administration mishandled the Libyan embassy incident and many of the promises the president made during the 2008 campaign have not come to fruition.
If I were part of the president’s re-election team, I’d be ecstatic that people are talking about Joe Biden’s facial expressions instead of the economy, Libya and broken promises.
For Republicans to capture the White House, they need to change the conversation. However, their immediate response fits right into the Democratic script. Within minutes of the end of the debate, the GOP was out with talking points, ads and social media postings about the vice president’s facial expressions and the number of times he interrupted Ryan.
The criticisms are valid, but they are unlikely to translate into large numbers of votes for the Romney-Ryan ticket since they resonated most strongly with voters who already are on the GOP wagon. For Democrats, it was just another case of Joe Biden being Joe Biden, and nothing that happened at Thursday’s debate is likely to make them jump ship.
It’s always the folks in the middle, the undecided voters, who determine which way close elections go. And the longer the conversation remains on Joe Biden’s laughter and smirks – and away from the more serious and more important issues – the more difficult is becomes for Republicans to win support from undecided voters.
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In 1960, telephones were tethered to cords and only were used for conversation. The news came to us just a few times a day — when the paper landed on our doorstep and when networks aired their news broadcasts. And when John Kennedy and Richard Nixon took part in the nation’s first live televised presidential debate, they stood before cameras and answered questions.
Today we get our news 24/7 on phones and computers. Smartphones allow us to text and to email, to surf the web and to capture and share pictures and videos. Advances in technology have radically changed the way news and information is gathered and disseminated, but as Mitt Romney and Barack Obama campaign this fall, the format we employ for presidential debates is essentially the same as what it was more than 50 years ago.