THE BIG PITCH: What advice would you give PR people in Bush's new administration?




Assistant Press Secretary to President Clinton and Director of Internet Press

1. Know your audience. Knowing the demographics of the Internet and understanding where users get information will serve as one of your greatest assets. Campaign 2000 taught us valuable lessons about what does and does not work when communicating a political message. Learn from these lessons. 2. Know your tools. We are just in the infancy of this new communications tool and it will be important to consistently think outside of the box. From online town halls to Internet press conferences, the possibilities are endless. Know your press corps. The Internet press corps is unlike any other. Take the time to understand their needs, priorities, and rules of operation. Also, the 24-hour news cycle and instantaneous deadlines can be friend or foe. The choice will be yours. 3. Most importantly, never give Matt Drudge your phone number.


Assistant to President Clinton and Director of Speechwriting

Suggestions for new White House speechwriters: First, check your egos at the door. If you're expecting to write words chiseled in granite on monuments, why not try being a graffiti artist? Just the sheer number of speeches on mundane topics like food safety regulations mean your speeches will tend to be prosaic and your flights of fancy will usually crashland.

Second, say goodbye to your life - if you've got one. If not, put it off until you leave the White House. Writing for the President is a 24-7 job, especially around State of the Union time. Third, assemble a hard-working, diverse staff. Life experience matters more than speechwriting experience. Finally, enjoy yourself. Make sure you have mess privileges for the late-night munchies and get as many rides as possible on Air Force One. It's one helluva ride.


Special Assistant to President Clinton; Communications Director for the National Economic Council

My advice is this: 1. State your economic strategy simply and clearly There may be a couple of Americans who haven't heard of President Clinton's economic strategy yet, but we haven't found them; 2. Don't communicate only to each other, communicate with someone's grandmother in Dubuque, IA. America needs someone to translate econspeak; 3. If you're paying down the debt, talk about it every day. The country still doesn't believe that we've been doing this for four years in a row; 4. Don't comment on the Fed or the markets. There's no quicker way to undermine confidence in your Administration's economic team; 5. Stick to the economic facts. Inflammatory rhetoric and political spin will sink credibility in a hurry; 6. Take care of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal and financial media in general need an advocate at the White House.


Deputy Director for Public Affairs for the US Department of Commerce; VP, Hager Sharp, Washington, DC

I have five pieces of advice: 1. Focus your message on your customers - your agency's constituency groups and the public. Too often government messages are 'program parochial.' 2. Develop an overarching message and incorporate it in every speech, press release, and brochure. This is a huge challenge in a bureaucracy. 3. As a political appointee, respect and engage the career professionals. You want to drive the agenda, and they've been on the road a while and know where the land mines are. 4. Major public policy efforts should incorporate the elements of political campaigns. 5. Remember, you are serving the American people.

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