What these 5 communicators are looking for in the first debate

PRWeek asked PR pros what they will be watching for in Monday night's presidential debate. This is what they said.

Trump and Clinton will battle it out tonight at New York's Hofstra University.
Trump and Clinton will battle it out tonight at New York's Hofstra University.

Lizanne Sadlier, SVP, Vox Global

This being the first of three debates, it likely won’t change too many minds. The one thing that could have an impact on the course of the race is a memorable moment or a good one-liner. More than policy prescriptions, that is what the press will focus on and the public will remember. So I will look for a good one-liner that has the effect of solidifying public perception about a candidate.

Dan Scandling, senior director of public affairs, APCO

How close to the line Donald Trump comes without crossing it. A large part of who he is his irreverence and disdain for political correctness, which clearly plays to his base. But he needs Independents to win in November and they need to see that he can be measured in his response to certain issues.

Eric Dezenhall, CEO, Dezenhall Resources

I am watching to see if Hillary Clinton will be able to get a word in edgewise.  Even skilled politicians find it hard to navigate the spectacle of a browbeating.

Brian Ellner, GM, corporate and public affairs, Edelman

Recent polling shows that as many as 36 percent of millennials are supporting third party candidates. This is a group that typically skews progressive and votes Democratic. Given what's at stake in this election, I believe many will end up moving to Hillary Clinton. I'll be watching for what messages she focuses on to move them.

Jim Papa, EVP head of Washington, D.C. office, Global Strategy Group

I'm looking for which candidate can best articulate a positive, proactive vision for the country's economic prosperity and security. There may be snap judgments about who "won" or "lost" based on quips or style points, but the long term advantage will go to the candidate who describes their future presidency with clarity and credibility.

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