WASHINGTON, DC: Few PR pros regard the State of the Union speech as much more than a quick primer of the year’s policy agenda. But according to Deputy White House press secretary Jim Kennedy, when President Clinton steps to the podium on Thursday, he will go a long way towards identifying the coming PR battles in the nation’s capital.
WASHINGTON, DC: Few PR pros regard the State of the Union speech as
much more than a quick primer of the year’s policy agenda. But according
to Deputy White House press secretary Jim Kennedy, when President
Clinton steps to the podium on Thursday, he will go a long way towards
identifying the coming PR battles in the nation’s capital.
’It’s really a defining moment for the year,’ Kennedy said. What makes
it interesting from a PR perspective, he added, is the behind-the-scenes
wrangling by lobbyists and PR pros.
In the days leading up to this year’s address, lobbying by interest
groups has predictably intensified.
Usually, noted former Clinton White House speechwriter David Kusnet, the
lobbying is ’presented under the guise of ’friendly advice.’’ But
Washington Center for Politics and Journalism executive director Terry
Michael said interest groups that get their ideas mentioned in the State
of the Union speech will score a PR victory that pays incredible
dividends in terms of developing a perception of clout, not to mention
attracting members and contributions.
Kusnet, now affiliated with the Economic Policy Institute, said that the
Clinton White House has effectively used the first few weeks of January
to drop trial balloons of what will be in the speech. With the news
cycle yet to heat up and with Congress still away, he said this strategy
’gives the administration a clear shot at national news coverage.’
Don’t think that interest groups and foundations haven’t attempted to
take advantage of the lull. The Heritage Foundation, for example, has
issued a paper with suggestions about what the President should
Scott Treibitz, president of labor and education specialists Tricom
Associates, also believes that his clients’ ’pre-statements’ give them
an edge. ’Reporters will call to see if our expectations were met,
rather than merely ask us to respond to the President’s proposals.’
’(The State of the Union) really is the p resident’s day,’ said House
Budget Committee director Terry Holt. However, he cautioned groups not
to discount the post-speech Republican response, noting its importance
in providing an opportunity for framing an effective
- See Big Pitch, p12.