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What Hilary Clinton's Shoegate Tells America about Government PR
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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To flacks in the know, "public affairs" is the process of communication of an organization's point of view on political causes. Let's not confuse that with governmental PR — as in, all the 535 members of our legislative branch, and those special ones in the executive branch. While each Senator and Representative has their own "chief of staff" and the White House has a director of communications and press secretary, it's too bad that Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can't become a client to some agency that cares about more than a paycheck and a logo, because that one client needs an oh-so-serious reputation overhaul!

Take what happened in Las Vegas with former besmirched bride, Secretary of State, and current presidential hopeful (again), Hilary Clinton

There she is, standing on stage at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Conference Center. Her message had something to do with the topic at hand — the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. Riveting, right? You would think with a mundane focus like that, no one in Clark County would have a serious issue, but this is politics. So, Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, went to the meeting with one thing on her mind — hurl a shoe as hard as she could at the noggin of Mrs. Clinton. She missed, was taken into federal custody, and has since been released on her own recognizance. Remind you of anything? Think back to a news conference in 2008 featuring former president George W. Bush, who had a shoe launched at his mug by an Iraqi journalist. What's this mean? Either people grow a serious hatred for their footwear around politicians, or it is symptomatic of a larger issue.

People hate the political process and everyone in it. Look at the approval rating of those in Capitol Hill. A whopping 13%, unchanged since December according to a latest Gallup poll. And why? They suck. Period. They don't care about you. Check your history class. This is a Republic, not a Democracy, which means you vote for people so they can vote for themselves. Sure, party affiliation is at an all-time high, but approval ratings of those leading said parties are at a record low. So, what recourse does the American public have to make their politicians listen? That's right…attack of the sneakers

There is a wide chasm separating Americans from its political leaders. Consider it the Grand Canyon. And full of roaring rapids. With alligators. And dragons. And someone released the Kraken! There is so much commotion going on about what separates us from those bigwigs, there is no need to pay attention to us in the first place…unless, of course, it's mid-terms and it is time to kiss hands and shake babies. Something like that. 

Question: When was the last time you considered this PR problem? When was the last time you contacted your representative? You haven't, because you are so beaten down with it that you don't vote, which is why those schmucks keep getting their jobs back. You are in PR. You know better. You have a voice — use it. Here's how. So set an example of what happens when perceptions go awry and what should happen to assist community relations. At least, that would be nice. 

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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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