The Message Men
“It sent the wrong message. We were trying to say something differently, but nevertheless, it conveyed a different message.” – George W. Bush during his last press conference as president
To paraphrase: the nation’s problems had nothing to do with George W. Bush’s decisions, and little to do with his contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the traditional separation of powers.
The problem was the “message.”
It was his final press conference in the White House, or anywhere, and he was going to have it his way.
“The message we sent people was that we hated everybody.”
That was a reference to the GOP’s attempts to exploit the immigration issue for a John McCain victory.
Similarly, Mr. Bush saw his own downfall as a result of the banner on board a U.S. Navy ship that read, “Mission Accomplished,” during the very first victorious days of the war in Iraq.
The death and dying had barely even begun then, but the banner still screamed out that he was a winner.
“[That] was a big mistake,” he admitted in the press conference’s only real moment of candor.
“It sent the wrong message.”
When it came to Hurricane Katrina, he was in the same message mode. “I thought long and hard about having Air Force One land in New Orleans or Baton Rouge,” he said, “But I decided against it because it would have tied up too many police officers.”
That pesky message, again. Here’s a man who saw the entire last eight years of national calamity and shame, not to mention the loss of life in 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Katrina, as nothing more than a public relations glitch.
That’s scary, but it is instructive.
As Mr. Bush and his failed messages drift back into Texas and history, his successor is about to mount the national stage.
Barack Obama wants to be perceived as a man of action who will fix the nation’s economy. He is clearly channeling role models like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As my friend Rae Zigerman used to say, “He should be so lucky.”
What we are getting up to this point is Barack Obama as another “man of message.”
Just listen as he addressed the nation last week in a radio speech, following his tense call to action (message) from George Mason University, when he discussed the frightening reality of an economy that still appeared to be in free-fall:
“These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path. If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.”
Barack Obama and the Democrats won with their messages and the Republicans lost with theirs.
Every war begins with a message. Every victory is rooted in the right message reaching the right audience, in the right way, at the right time.
It all begins with a good message that is communicated well.
That applies to the leader of the free world, just as it applies to your business.
That’s why I’m here – to develop the messages and implement the best strategy for communicating them.
Don’t look back in anger, lamenting the message that was never sent, as was the case with Katrina, or the message that was mis-communicated like the rueful, “Mission Accomplished.”
I create the message and design the best way of sending it. This year, this time, you have a mission to accomplish. Let’s work together to make sure it happens.Bush, Corporate Communications, message, obama