PR’s Role in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations: Good or Bad?

For both the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans, public relations will be major factor in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

But will the use of PR during the negotiations be used for good or ill?

A pair of bloggers for the Washington Post clashed over what role PR should play in the efforts to avoid a series of tax increases and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect in January.

In reaction to a news item in the Post titled, “Obama public relations effort aims to avoid ‘fiscal cliff,’” Ed Rogers took a fairly jaundiced view of Obama’s PR strategy.

Titled “Obama has a PR plan and nothing else,” Rogers writes that President Obama is relying strictly on a PR effort—which includes hitting the road this week to meet with ordinary Americans to state his case—because he “doesn’t have the desire or the skills to solve the problem by sitting down with other government leaders.” 

What’s more, Rogers suggests that Obama is using PR as a crutch because he’s doesn’t want to tackle entitlement spending and may prefer to demonize the GOP. While conceding the PR strategy makes sense, Rogers said it will not save the country from a “potentially devastating recession.”

However, in a piece titled, “In defense of public relations,” Carter Eskew has a different take on PR, saying the president is right to “play an outside game.”

Eskew said that while it’s good PR for the president for now to try and stay above the fray, “the best PR strategies have an end game in mind.”

Although Obama has stated he would consider significant spending cuts, including entitlements, waiting too long to communicate (and educate the American public) on what kind of outcome he would prefer could backfire on him.

Rogers thinks Obama’s PR strategy on the ‘fiscal cliff” is a fairly cynical approach to governing while Eskew applauds the president’s PR strategy, but with some reservations.

What do you think?

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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