It’s Official – Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

 Its Official   Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress.

Not just cockroaches, but head lice – and not just pesky insects, either. The 112th United States Congress is lower on the American popularity ladder than traffic jams, Donald Trump, Ghengis Khan, used-car salesmen, and – perhaps most damning of all – Brussels sprouts.

That sounds like a great joke (“What’s more popular than Congress?” “Root canals!”), but in fact, even root canals were preferable to the current Congressional staff of the US government, according to a Public Policy Poll of 830 Americans. In the non-partisan poll, Congress received a mere 9 percent favorability rating. The only things it beat out in terms of dislike were telemarketers, ebola, gonorrhea, bullies, meth labs, and Lindsay Lohan.

Why should Congress care what 830 Americans think? Well, these were only the 830 Americans actually asked; the numbers statistically represent a far greater percentage of people who dislike what’s happening, or not happening, with the fiscal cliff, gun control or the lack thereof, and other pressing matters. Members of Congress, elected by the public may want to take note.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress. Cockroaches everywhere are celebrating their boost up the ladder of the loathed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: A fall from grace is faster than the climb back up. So far, members of Congress have had more PR success in complaining  bitterly about the other side than making lasting progress. Solutions are now preferable. This fall from the grace needs a remedial bi-partisan effort. A landmark agreement on one of the pressing issues facing the nation is what will rescue this reputation. Until then the slide is set to continue.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s PR Winners & Losers

fiscal cliff 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK:  “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: The Fiscal Cliff. Where was this now-infamous, much-ballyhooed, utterly dreaded fiscal cliff over the interminable electioneering months? The term vanished from the public lexicon then but is now rekindling waves of panic in financial markets and cable news. Before the election this had at best medium celebrity value, but ten days later the media hasn’t stopped talking about going over the cliff and new catastrophic lows for the economy. The “cliff” is the perfect PR package: terror, fear, and and the unwanted leap into the unknown. No wonder both sides of the political debate won’t let this metaphor go. Creating urgency around this means someone has to blink first. Artful PR.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Guy Fieri, Food Network star and owner of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. This week, Fieri’s new Times Square establishment got national media attention – for receiving what may be the most scathing restaurant review The New York Times has ever published. Highlights: “Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?” Fieri hit back immediately – ensuring that even more people read the review. Yet one wonders: What did the reviewer really expect from a 500-seat eatery in Times Square, and will the quality of food really matter to visitors trapped in a touristic culinary wasteland?

JILLKELLEY 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR BLUNDER OF THE WEEK TO: Jill Kelley’s brother David Khawam. He hit the airwaves hoping to move the dial on the national fascination with his socialite sister Jill Kelley, who is intimately involved in the Petraeus scandal. Springing to her defense, he claims it is ‘ludicrous” to think his sister had an affair with Petraeus. “She has three kids and is a dedicated wife,” he protested. A well-intentioned but awkward PR move. Besides being an unconvincing defense, the question of Kelly having an affair with Petraeus had not been seriously raised before. Was this a case of team Kelley shooting itself in the foot?

Guest Column: Boehner’s Bait and Switch

BOHENER 150x150 Guest Column: Boehners Bait and Switch

PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Speaker Boehner.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner wasted no time before the presidential election result was called, declaring, “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.” With polls still open in Alaska and Hawaii, the Republican leadership was drawing a line in the sand. No matter the outcome, some ideas were not going to be up for debate.

But election night was still young when Boehner made his statement. By Wednesday morning, he’d nuanced his position by stating Republicans were willing to accept new revenue, without  mentioning any further details. Perhaps he realized that following President Obama’s re-election, “no taxes” wasn’t going to fly.

A standard tactic in negotiations and PR brinkmanship is to set boundaries early on. These pre-emptive shots across the bow manage the other side’s expectations before the negotiations commence. Taking firm positions far in advance of a negotiation can be effective, but this type of bargaining tactic tends not to win friends and can create PR nightmares down the line. No one wants to have to publicly backtrack.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Speaker Boehner, who has now given himself some negotiating room. He might have been better off saying nothing on the big night.

The PR Takeaway: Careful when and where you draw your definitive line. Muhammad Ali gained PR notoriety for taunting and “trash-talking” his competitors before a boxing match. Competitive athletes now commonly use this tactic. It’s about getting the other side to doubt their strength, question their position, and to negotiate against themselves. This is no different than using bluffs, and was most likely Boehner’s tactic with Obama. There are PR advantages if you can remain firm, but if you can’t maintain your position, silence is always golden.

neilpatton2 150x150 Guest Column: Boehners Bait and SwitchGuest columnist Neil Patton is the President of Pre-think Strategic Negotiations, Inc. Pre-think is a consultancy focused on helping organizations and individuals improve their negotiation capabilities and outcomes. A professional labor negotiator for more than 19 years, his clients have included the Canadian Army , healthcare providers, and mining companies.