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How Does Government PR Not Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Hey! Seasons Greetings from Fiscal Cliff National Park, where the wind doesn't blow...it sucks! And while I sit on top of this mountain to learn how the nation's top two percent do it (you know, stay up here and moon everyone else), it reminded me how Congress, the House of Representatives, and even the White House escape a PR implosion. 

Imagine if you were at work, never got along with your boss, told all your coworkers to stick it...and still kept your job! Impossible, right? Given the ballyhoo being hurled over the "fiscal cliff," it gets any PR professional thinking about moving to D.C. Those guys in our industry must be making crazy bank. 

In case you slept through it, the "Fiscal Cliff" is the popular term used to describe the conundrum that the U.S. faces at the end of this year, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect. For many, it's a serious case of tiredhead, but for politicians, it is Teflon. Nothing sticks to these guys, regardless of what side of the aisle they camp out on like Black Friday refugees. This country is facing a monetary Armageddon and no one is in danger of losing their job. 

The only smart person using PR for his benefit is — you guessed it — the president. This story from NPR notes all of his tactics, most notably #my2k
The hashtag incorporated the president's argument that an average middle-class family would have to pay an additional $2,200 in federal income taxes if no agreement is reached.
"Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls," Obama told his audience. "You can tweet it using the hashtag 'My2K' " Not 'Y2K [laughter].' 'My2K.' We figured that would make it a little easier to remember."
For Obama, the hashtag-slinging public relations effort was the 2012 version of a president's traditional White House bully pulpit to further his agenda. It was also an attempt to tap into the energy of the president's supporters, who gave him the opportunity of a second term.
If you can't beat them, tweet them? That's what people will hear and read. No research. No care of what is happening in D.C. Just a tweet will do. Spare the political blather. That's not the premise of this blog post. It's about reputation management. Here is a real chance for someone to stand up, reach across an aisle and make a difference. Yet...no one.

Congress is about to fall off this fiscal cliff, but at least they all have golden parachutes and no comprehension of public perception. Instead, we get schticky hashtags and name-calling and no one in that lovely Capitol building is in fear of losing their day job. Well, until 2014. You know, if the Mayans don't come back first with a bunch of zombies. 

How do they do it? 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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