With less than a month until election day, the presidential candidates are strapped for time. Assuming we have all caught CNN at one point or another over the last couple weeks, we have probably heard the insults and the “he said, she said” go back and forth between parties. In this post from The Firm Voice, an interview with CEO and President of Xenophon strategies, David A. Fuscus, reveals all of the valuable lessons PR practitioners can take away from watching the presidential race unfold. I especially liked Fuscus’s response to the question: How is this relevant to agencies and PR people not in politics?
“Emphasizing action over messaging is important in communications overall—not just in politics. It depends on the situation, but messages have to be built around your actions and not the other way around. For example, you have to take definitive action in the consumer field if something happens that will result in a loss of confidence.”
I believe action is key in expressing confidence during times of crisis… whether on Wall Street or as a PR executive working on a client’s campaign. From watching the presidential race from a communication perspective, I agree with Fuscus that it is important to (1) act quickly and (2) find touch points for your public, meaning simple messages to touch people as individuals. Do you agree with Fuscus’s perspective on what we can learn from a presidential campaign? What lessons, from a communication standpoint as a PR student, have you taken away so far?
Surfing the net for a daily fix to satisfy my addiction to the fast-approaching presidential election, I happened upon a blog post by Richard Laermer on Bad Pitch Blog — PR, Politics & The Politics of PR. In it Laermer talks about the need for PR practitioners, especially in service related industries, to tread lightly when talking and blogging about personal political stances during elections. Laermer said that even though it may be a casual blog “It is dangerous, still. No matter how cool you are about saying something, the art of offending people is easy in a sensitive political year like this,” adding that it is wiser to be cautious about what postion and opinions you make public because, after all is said and done, “it will be business as usual” when election time is over.
The post made me think about business relationships among PR practitioners and their clients. As PR professionals, what are the objectivity guidelines for the voicing of personal political views? Are they the same as jounalists? That as communicators with the potential to reach mass audiences we should be wary of voicing our views in fear of being labeled biased. Personally, I consider myself a citizen first, pr professional second. I believe that I am capable of feeling strongly about improtant issues, such as the presidential election, without those feelings affecting how I do my job or represent my client. I also am dismayed at the thought that just because we are professional communicators we cannot engage in conversations with others in fear that we may be labeled as one thing or another. After all, isn’t that how we learn to undersatnd and accept others and their views, by openly sharing ideas.
I’m curious what others think. How do the personal speculations of a PR practitioner, on a blog or in a casual conversation, affect how they are seen by current and prospective clients and what dangers do political labels have on a PR practioner?