How do you PR package 42-year-old Paul Ryan for vice president? And what’s the PR dynamic for his running with Mitt Romney? Father-son? Teacher-pupil? Firebrand-moderate? Or just great pals? This choreography will be more carefully planned than the finals of Dancing With the Stars.
Both political sides are excited by the Ryan announcement. Ryan rouses fiscal conservatives – at last, said the commentators, a candidate who has built his reputation on fiscal discipline. Democrats, on the other hand, think they have been handed a political gift. “The man who wants to end Medicare” is now their political rallying cry.
A generation younger than his potential boss, Ryan has the charisma and energy to appeal to voters. His positioning is that of the Young Turk brimming with ideas, energy, and conviction. Romney may find himself playing second fiddle to a younger deputy with stronger, more headline-grabbing ideas. Where does that leave Romney: agreeing with Ryan on all matters, or being the more moderate, generational elder? How can the younger, pushier brand, Ryan, compliment and not overshadow the more seasoned brand of Romney?
The PR Verdict: ”B” (Good Show), so far, for Paul Ryan and his opening salvos. His youth, vigor, and ideological commitment seem to have energized his party. The PR work is now to position both candidates as being not only on the same page but having the same level of firepower and conviction.
The PR Takeaway: Brands need space. Ryan has captured the headlines with some radical views, and his brand is becoming clear. For Romney, his own brand positioning needs to reaffirm who is running the show – a public tango where Romney needs to be seen in the lead at all times. Romney’s faux pas on the day of the announcement, when he introduced Ryan as the “next President of the United States,” could be a portent of a potential PR problem. Romney, for the sake of his own candidacy, needs to make sure that he is seen as being in charge of the ideology, as well as the campaign.
Is Paul Ryan a wise or radical choice for Romney? Give us your PR Verdict!