Getting your butt kicked SHOULD make you “mopey.” But at his post-election press conference yesterday President Obama said that Tuesday’s election results didn’t make him “mopey” but rather energized him because “it means that this democracy is working.” Let’s see a show of hands of how many people believe that.
Here at the 15-Seconds blog we don’t engage in political commentary. It is not that we don’t have views — but we think of this site as a place to offer non-partisan media relations advice.
But we see some lessons to draw from yesterday’s response from the White House that would be applicable to any person or organization reacting through the media to an adverse turn of events for their enterprise.
We advise clients who experience some major reversal in fortunes to be upfront in admitting what happened and to aggressively go out of their way to suggest what changes they plan to make.
It seems to us that the speechwriters preparing the President’s opening remarks went out of their way to try to look for silver linings while minimizing very obvious dark clouds.
Lines like: “So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too” seem to be an effort to minimize the significance of the election.
In his Q&A the President shied away from applying any label to the results – no admitting a “shellacking” or “thumping” or anything beyond saying his opponents “had a good night.”
He also avoided any specifics about things that might be done differently saying:
“Everybody in this White House is going to look and say, all right, what do we need to do differently? But the principles that we’re fighting for — the things that motivate me every single day and motivate my staff every day — those things aren’t going to change.”
Politico correctly translated that to mean: “Thanks for your advice, everyone. I’m good.”
From a communications standpoint — if your brand is under fire — simply saying that you’ll think about whether anything needs to be done differently is not enough. You need to step up and offer some specifics.