PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Health Care, President Obama, Rush Limbaugh & John Edwards

by Patty Briguglio on 02/01/2010


I have some opinions about recent items that struck me as prime examples of good and bad public relations.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Health Care Reform and the Massachusetts Seat

With the win of Scott Brown as the new senator in Massachusetts, prospects for the current health care reform plan appear weak.  That’s fine with me.  I believe that it is seriously flawed, and that the process needs to be restarted and performed with the transparency that the President promised us.

Congress should not work on some 1,000 pages of reform in the back rooms and then tell the American public to trust them and that they will explain it all after it is passed.  That’s not only bad PR, that’s horrible public policy.  Health care reform is too important.  Along the same lines …

The President and My PR Suggestions

President Barack Obama got the message right in his State of the Union address Wednesday that jobs are priority number one right now over health care.  That indicates an “I hear you” stance that he needs to have with Americans if he is to succeed.  Yet he still remained defensive about his health care plan, and discussed no clear method on how he intends to handle the issue given the change in the country’s political climate. 

My verdict is that he is still struggling to stay on message.  I sure would like to have that glass of wine with the President in person – I think it would help set him straight.

Rush Limbaugh and Haiti

On his Jan. 14 show, Rush Limbaugh said the following: “Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion.”  That was a bad statement, made even more so by the fact he refused to apologize for it.

While I have some issues with the President, I respect the way he made bipartisan efforts to address this humanitarian crisis, making contact with former President George W. Bush as well as Bill Clinton to promote their joint relief project, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.  Most Republicans have defended the president’s efforts for Haiti, and most Americans have contributed to Haiti without thinking it means Republicans lack compassion. This was not Rush’s finest hour.

And speaking of Haiti …

The John Edwards Fiasco

Does anyone have any worse PR guidance – or hubris – than this guy right now? (I’m including Tiger Woods when I say that!)  He believed he could leave to help Haiti on the same day he confessed fathering a child out of wedlock and hope that the former action would gather more attention than his adultery.  Incredible.

If Edwards and his PR team from Fitzpatrick Communications thought the Haiti maneuver would distract people from the paternity issue, then that was a bad PR plan.  Face it – Edwards blew it by not telling the truth from the get-go (actually, he failed by cheating on his wife, but I’m looking at this purely from a PR perspective right now).  He is mouthing information we already knew and assumed was correct at this point, yet trying to deflect criticism by showing his humanitarian streak.  Sorry, John, we don’t buy it.

Edwards has just a 15 percent favorability approval by state voters, according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling.  All I can say is I am glad I do not have him as a client.  When it comes to PR, he may just be unsalvageable.

Photo Source: hiddedevries