Much was made of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s April 27 press conference, the first time a Fed leader has ever faced major media in such a forum. Dire economic and geopolitical circumstances brought this on, so the press, those in finance and the general public were very interested in what Bernanke had to say about the economic recovery—or lack thereof. But although the conference lasted 50 minutes and Bernanke talked for most of it, he didn’t really say much. Another PR job well done.
I asked Andy Gilman, president and CEO of CommCore Consulting Group and an experienced media trainer, what thought of the conference and Bernanke’s performance. He says the real news was the fact that he took questions at all. “This was as much about
the perception of the Fed than it was in any breaking news,” says Gilman. And, there wasn’t much of an effort to make news from the outset. Gilman says his opening statement was “quintessential Fed speak.” It was clear that Bernanke was well-rehearsed, but then again, Gilman says the questions were thoughtful but their tone “wasn’t too agressive.” No one got follow-up questions, either.
So, there wasn’t much chance of Bernanke making a big mistake. “If Bernanke, in fact, made a mistake that could have caused a market reaction, I’m sure the Fed communications team would have been ready for a rapid correction,” says Gilman. But no PR follow-up was needed. Bernanke was that good.
–Scott Van Camp