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#PRFail: Obama’s Woes
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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If, like me, you have been following the news lately, it surely appears the Obama Administration is in trouble.
The news lately has been concentrated on the problems with the roll-out (via the website) of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and also on the outrage now beginning to percolate throughout the country, even among Mr Obama’s strongest supporters, about what Obamacare is really doing. (See the WSJ Online recent articles The ObamaCare Awakening and The Outrage Arrives to see what I mean.)
In a blog I posted the other week about the Washington Mess, I noted: “I have always said that business (and the Government is no exception) needs to listen to both its internal and external customers. Any business that refuses to do so does at its own eventual peril.”
Now I see my esteemed colleague Doug Bedell, in a post the other day titled “You've Got To Know What's Going On In An Organization, Even If It's the U.S. Government," made this comment: “Effective PR is, first of all, about knowing what's going on in an organization and ending what's likely to cause relational harm should it become known or misinterpreted publicly.”
I agree. And part of this goes back to listening to one’s stakeholders above all.

Newsmax.com recently penned a short article, citing a New York Times story, that Mr Obama may be struggling to stay in command. While I tend to agree with the Newsmax story, I think what has been happening in Washington lately (Obamacare, NSA snooping, etc.) is too deliberate to simply be a case of mismanagement or not enough management from the top. The NYT story noted, “President Obama finds himself under fire on two disparate fronts these days, both for the botched rollout of his signature healthcare program and for the secret spying on allied heads of state. In both instances, his explanation roughly boils down to this: I didn't know. As a practical matter, no president can be aware of everything going on in the sprawling government he theoretically manages. But as a matter of politics, Mr. Obama's plea of ignorance may do less to deflect blame than to prompt new questions about just how much in charge he really is."

Ouch. As Mr Bedell’s post implied, effective PR is more than just mere spin or damage control. It is also being able to be truthful with stakeholders, external and internal customers, and others. From all the recent news stories, it appears (to this flack) the Obama Administration has done anything but been truthful. And since today is Halloween, it is clearly Trick rather than Treat. angry

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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