Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 3:40 PM

Lesson from the "bailout" -- define or be defined

In the coming weeks, we will explore how the current economic climate and sweeping government intervention poses new public relations challenges for organizations of all stripes -including financial institutions. Until then, let's explore what communications professionals can learn from the tumultuous debate in Congress over the "bailout" package.

Proponents of the financial rescue package lost the race for public opinion at the starting gate. As the term “Wall Street bailout” coursed through the public dialogue, the plan’s proponents (republicans and democrats) offered little pushback. Outraged citizens posted videos on that garnered nearly 500,000 views each, yet congressional leaders had no marketing plan of their own. Only after the House of Representatives rejected the initial plan were supporters more aggressive in defining the debate on terms that resonate on Main Street - such as "investment," "buy-in," and "rescue." Once the revised package was finally approved by Congress, advocates were evoking compelling, real-life stories about small business owners on "Main Street" as the true beneficiaries of the rescue package.

The race to define is not limited to politics. Many companies resort to opaque statements or no statements at all when they fall under public scrutiny. Doing so virtually guarantees that the debate will be defined by one's critics. The sheer volume of media sources available today - in print, over the airwaves, online, or simple community relations - creates an information vacuum. The question is not whether the vacuum will be filled; the question is who will fill it first.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

back to top