Much has been written about Obama’s innovative use of comms to win the presidential race. He now needs to employ the same skills of collaboration and consensus-building to achieve his global vision.
In New York this week Jack Leslie, Weber Shandwick’s global chairman and a former adviser to Senator Edward Kennedy, even calls for a ‘public diplomacy campaign that redefines America’s engagement with the world community and its citizens’. Leslie argues that the US needs to invest millions of dollars in its ‘soft’ power, rather than in military solutions.
Leslie is right. With the end of the Bush dynasty, the world needs an America that achieves things via consensus, rather than by fear and blind doctrine. In recent weeks the US administration’s reluctance to condemn Israel’s murder of Palestinian civilians reinforces the clichés about America’s gobal role.
The US government can employ the core skills of professional comms: by listening to public opinion; and by winning arguments through a democratic battle of ideas, not military steel.
After all, some of America’s favourite children are embracing this approach. McDonald’s, for so long the symbol of US business imperialism, is adapting culturally to new territories, engaging better with its staff, and harnessing environmental innovation.
This is in stark contrast with America’s domestic motor industry. When its bosses arrogantly flew to a recent crisis summit in private jets, many saw this as symbolic of how out of touch they had become with global opinion.
If consensus is indeed to be the theme of a brave new era – further bolstering this age of dialogue – then PR professionals must surely benefit. Many of us will be watching events in Washington DC on Tuesday with real hope.
Click here for Weber Shandwick chairman Jack Leslie's commentary on Obama's future challenges