Obama putting lessons learned in marketing and PR into action

PR professionals know full well how essential communication, marketing, and branding are to any campaign. Politicians certainly do, too.

PR professionals know full well how essential communication, marketing, and branding are to any campaign. Politicians certainly do, too.

But from time to time, even the most talented among them lose sight of just how important communication really is, and what it really entails.

As President Obama transitions into the second half of his first term in office, he is adhering to an important rule: ideas, actions, and accomplishments don't necessarily communicate themselves.

Since November, Obama has retooled and refocused his administration's messaging efforts, especially with regard to economic policy.

From a PR standpoint, the approach stands in contrast to the previous two years of his presidency. Obama himself acknowledged that this change was coming – and that it was necessary – in an October 12 piece in The New York Times Magazine aptly titled, "The Education of a President."

"Given how much stuff was coming at us," Obama told the Times' Peter Baker, "we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who's occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion."

In the months since, Obama has worked to close the communication gap between himself and the public, bridging the divide that exists between his policy aspirations and his level of engagement with key stakeholders.

This is especially true of Obama's relationship with the business community, where he's demonstrated the importance of engaging in an ongoing dialogue with the community important to his policy and political agenda.

In the coming weeks and months, look for the President and his Administration to expand its outreach into the business community, seeking both public validation for legislative achievements thus far, and support for his economic and trade agenda moving forward.

Jackson Dunn is MD and practice leader of public affairs for the Americas at FD. 

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