One Image, One Question: August 9, 2016

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Way back in August of 1979, a scion of one of the most powerful and successful political families of the 20th century demonstrated the need to be prepared when put on the stage in search of the highest office in the land.

The scion: Then U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-Massachusetts), brother of a president and brother of senator who was running for president– both, as you know — assassinated.


Mr. Donald Trump, Republican candidate for president, do I have a question for you.

The situation: The Senator was being interviewed by CBS News reporter Roger Mudd on what should have been Kennedy’s chance to demonstrate why he deserved the Democratic nomination for president in the 1980 national elections. The interview took place in a safe and controlled environment: The Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port.

The question: “Why do you want to be president?”

The result: Senator Kennedy delivered a remarkably rambling, decidedly disconnected and certainly confusing response to Mudd’s simple question.

The outcome: Kennedy’s campaign was sunk. Sitting President Jimmy Carter was granted the Democratic nomination, but was trounced by Ronald Reagan.

(Read more from this online report, or view this video posted on YouTube.)

The relationship to the 2016 presidential race: Republican nominee Donald Trump, as you know, has been asked many questions since the campaign began last year, and unquestionably, he’s delivered some rambling, disconnected and confusing answers. But I’m not sure if Mr. Trump has been asked perhaps the most poignant question for any candidate running for president.

And, now for the question — pretty obvious I trust — and subject of today’s post:

Mr. Trump, why do you want to be president?

Throughout this often bizarre and contentious campaign, Mr. Trump has been asked a lot of questions, but I’ve not heard an interviewer pose the simple one above. Given his proclivity for bluster and bombast, I would guess Mr. Trump would not shrink and retreat in the manner as Senator Kennedy.

And, in the interest of fairness, I would pose the same question to Democrat Hillary Clinton. But I think we know what her answer would be.



Three Smart Communications Strategies Followed by Hillary Clinton in Presidential Nomination Announcement

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

For the record, I’ve only been involved as an active participant in one political campaign.  More on that later.

But, like many Americans, I follow the political process (locally and nationally), vote in every election (even the primaries) and have my opinions on pressing governance issues (not for publication at this time).


Can you find the “red, white and blue” in this image?

And, like many Americans, I viewed the video announcement April 12 that Hillary Clinton has officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2016 national elections. Clearly, it was a decision many — from professional political pundits to the average American (whoever that is) — anticipated.

Count me in that category.

But what I found fascinating was the way the message was delivered, which prompted me to identify three sound communications strategies employed by the Clinton campaign.

1. Delivered Digitally. It was a wise strategic decision to make the announcement through a crafted video. The format allowed Clinton to deliver an entirely scripted message using a medium widely embraced and accessible to most Americans. It avoided the standard practice of breaking the news at a rally attended by cheering partisan supporters. Finally, the video format — comments from people, followed by a message from the candidate — proved very effective. I got the message, and I wasn’t bored.

2. Engaging “Everyday” Americans. As just noted, the production opens with very short profiles of a very representative cross-section of Americans — a home gardener, two Hispanic brothers starting a restaurant, a young Asian woman exploring the job market, a gay couple from Chicago, an African American couple expecting a child, a woman who plans to retire, and others. These are the candidate’s supportive base, without question.  I found their brief profiles compelling and believable.

3. Going On the Road. After the video was aired initially, Clinton took the message to the heartland, literally. She headed west in a van, making unscheduled stops at cafes, stores and service stations in small towns before a planned speech in Iowa. This kept the story alive, gave the candidate opportunities to engage with those “everyday” Americans and probably kept her out of range from answering the substantive kinds of questions that surely are forthcoming.

Now, back to my involvement on the campaign trail, of sorts.  Way back in the mid-1980s, I was enlisted by a friend to help distribute “palm cards” — small handbills — near a polling place on the Northwest Side of Chicago. I don’t recall the candidate or his platform, but I believe he was a Democrat. I do recall that after the polls closed, a campaign organizer invited me and other volunteers — those distributing literature for Democrats and Republican candidates — to a pub for beers.

For the uninitiated, this was a clear example of how politics operated in some parts of Chicago and Illinois back then: Like a combine fueled at times by rewards (in this case a few rounds of drinks, for others a job) rather than political ideology.

And, in a final thought, #4 communications strategy: Candidate Clinton’s campaign managers were smart to keep the candidate’s husband off the stump. For now.