Request for Free Labor Comes With a Price for Obama Campaign


The Obama campaign was criticized by media outlets such as Rolling Stone and Time when it sent out a call to designers asking them to create poster designs illustrating support for President Obama’s jobs bill. The campaign will choose a winner—and that winner will receive neither payment nor copyright ownership.

This amounts to free labor, which is not exactly jobs-friendly.

Election laws prohibit political campaigns from accepting individual contributions in excess of $2,500, and therefore the campaign cannot contract a design firm to produce a poster. This restriction led in part, perhaps, to the creation of the design contest. The problem, from a PR perspective, is that the Obama campaign did not work through all the possible outcomes of the design contest. And now it has to deal with the taunts of a media-savvy segment of the workforce. The irony of asking someone to work for free in order to promote a bill about job creation was not lost among the media and designer community.

The Obama campaign could have dipped into its $62 million well and paid a designer a fee that falls under $2,500 limit. Saving money, though, was probably not the goal. The contest was likely an attempt at a grassroots campaign that would generate positive buzz—instead it got a buzz-killer.




1 Comment

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Media Relations Conference

 media_relations_banners_180x150_ep

Join us on December 11, 2014, for PR News’ essential Media Relations Conference, taking place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. You'll learn from top PR professionals how to amplify your organization’s messages through positive coverage in traditional media and through your own branded content initiatives.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook


book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

  • Stephen A.

    The Obama campaign asks for “free labor” to create pro-”jobs” bill propaganda? One more job the bill will NOT be creating.