What Hillary Clinton needs to say on Sunday

It's the most highly anticipated campaign launch in history? So how can the former first lady and secretary of state live up to the expectations.

What Hillary Clinton needs to say on Sunday

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to make the most anticipated – and maybe the most unsurprising – announcement of a presidential bid ever on Sunday.

She will reportedly launch her second campaign for the White House first with a tweet, then via email and video messages and a barnstorming tour of Iowa, the state whose caucuses were her first setback against then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.

Yet still smarting from revelations that she used a personal email address during her tenure running the State Department, Clinton is also under pressure to strike the right tone.

We asked public affairs experts one question – what does Hillary Clinton have to say when she announces her bid on Sunday? Their replies follow.

Ben Feller, MD, Mercury
Most importantly, Clinton has to say why she wants to be president, and her answer needs to signal why this time is different. It all starts there. The last time she ran, it took her a surprise loss in Iowa to find her authentic voice and rebound, and of course she was never able to summon the support or energy that Obama did. This is her first clear shot of the new campaign, on her terms, to say what her vision for America is. 

Beyond her ideas and reasons for running, her tone and demeanor are extremely important. She steps into this moment as the presumed Democratic nominee, but voters don't like to be taken for granted. Her recent spotlight has been as Obama's secretary of state, or as a candidate-in-waiting scrambling to explain her email habits. Her announcement will be watched closely for her sheer presence – how well she can convey that she is a person of the people and yet the best leader for them, too.

Jim Papa, EVP, Global Strategy Group
Although most Americans know Clinton and like her, the campaign announcement is a great opportunity to give people an even better sense of who she is as a person and what she cares most about. The announcement is a unique opportunity to communicate that her life in public service has been, and will continue to be, about expanding opportunity for every American, that she is listening to the American public, and that she takes nothing for granted.

Lisa Ross EVP and group head for corporate and public affairs, Ogilvy Washington
The success of Clinton's announcement is more about authentically showing who she is rather than what she says. Anyone who knows her will say emphatically that her behind-the-scenes self is far more attractive and appealing than her public persona. Only she knows which one is real, but from a communications point of view, the former is the one we need to see on Sunday, the one voters are more likely to respond to positively. 

Every national candidate who has failed has done so in part because he – and I do mean he -- wasn't true to self: Romney in 2012 and McCain in 2008. Consumers, constituents, and voters may not like who you are, but they'll respect you for telling the truth. Increasingly, they won't stand for anything else. 

Ben LaBolt, founding partner, The Incite Agency
The three factors voters — and reporters — will judge her on are: did she offer a clear rationale for her candidacy, a vision for how to strengthen the middle class, and a compelling contrast with her Republican opponents.

Bill McIntyre, Washington office director, Ketchum
Hillary needs to explain in 140 characters or less what difference her presidency will make.

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