Will She, Or Won’t She? Hillary Gets Coy

 Will She, Or Wont She? Hillary Gets Coy

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) to Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was so determined to succeed in her run for president, there were doubts that cooperation between her and the man who would be President, Barack Obama, was even possible. Vice President was out; would she even accept Secretary of State, or would she pack up her toys and go home? Everyone knows the answer to that one, as this week Secretary of State Clinton leaves her post having logged more flight miles than any of her predecessors. Now that her consolation prize post is over, is she setting her laser-beam sights again on the big chair?

There are no indications coming from her directly, though there are enough indications swirling around her to give political pundits much to speculate about. First came a positively chummy interview Sunday past, with Hillary and President Obama on 60 Minutes. When asked if she was considering another run in 2016, Clinton replied, “I don’t think either [Obama] or I can make predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow or next year.” The interview was seen by many as an endorsement, despite the president’s attempt to laugh that off.

Clinton was more direct during an interview with CNN yesterday, during which she said she had “absolutely no plans to run.” A forthcoming memoir may provide a few more interesting clues – or not. For now, the former First Lady and outgoing Secretary of State will keep everyone wondering whether she’ll try to add the ultimate title to her resume.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) to Hillary Clinton. Altogether more intriguing than any other politician.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Keep people guessing, and you keep people thinking about you. Clinton knows when to give, as she did during her very real testimony on the attack on the American consulate in Libya. She also knows when to withhold, with a blithe smile, as she does whenever she’s asked about another attempt at the presidency. Hillary Rodham Clinton has become a master of giving and withholding information, ensuring that the public, love her or hate her, will snap to attention whenever she speaks. Give a little . . . but not too much, and you’ll get the lion’s share of attention.

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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. Nothing beats a ringing endorsement, and Warren Buffet threw his PR weight behind Dimon by recommending him as Secretary of Treasury when Tim Geithner finally hangs up his boots. For Dimon, whose halo has arguably faded over the last 12 months, this was a shot in the arm for an unofficial campaign that still has him denying he wants the job anyway. As an outspoken banker against regulation, Dimon’s PR image has also endured the recent fracas of the London Whale losses and headlines relating to  manipulation of the energy market. However, Saint Warren’s benediction minimizes those sins. A smart move in what might be a long running campaign.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Susan Rice. The UN Ambassador likely has grill marks on her suit from the intense inquisition–er, questioning being administered by John McCain and Lindsey Graham in a bid to stop her nomination as Secretary of State. At issue: What Rice knew, when she knew it, and if she even knew anything at all about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Rice is currently being forced into a game of who-said-what with the CIA. The Administration gets an “F”  for failing to characterise this entire issue as an operational failure and instead allowing its opponents to claim it as a policy issue.  If Rice does ultimately get the job, monitoring warring nations will seem a comparative piece of cake.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Gennifer Flowers. The former model and actress who said she had a long-term affair with Bill Clinton in 1992 was recently consulted by an ABC affiliate for comment on the David Petraeus affair (because…she’s an expert on politicians’ dalliances?). During the interview, Flowers took full credit for Clinton’s presidential nomination, saying that her damning press conference “made him a household name overnight.” Good to know at last how he really ascended to the presidency.

Libya: The Devil Is In Giving the Details

 Libya: The Devil Is In Giving the Details

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Obama Administration.

Nearly three weeks after the deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the murder of the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Obama Administration still seems caught up in its own shifting accounts of what happened and when. Its messages are muddled. Could simple PR basics help?

Things got off to a messy start as Twitter feeds at the time of the US consulate attack indicated that rioting was taking place following discovery of the now infamous anti-Muslim film on YouTube. Tweets from State Department employees on the scene described the riot as spontaneous. On day two of the attack, President Obama was at pains to describe it as “an act of terror.” Susan Rice, his Ambassador to the United Nations, then muddied the waters by saying the attacks were “spontaneous” and related to similar film-ignited protests in Cairo. Since then, both versions have been revised.

Intelligence officials have been quoted in the media as saying the attack, while not planned months in advance, was organized by a group with sympathies to Al Qaeda but not linked directly to them. The FBI says it has been unable to investigate the murder due to the extreme danger of the area. Who is right?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Obama administration in its handling of this issue. What happened, and more importantly, who now has the responsibility to explain?

The PR Takeaway: There’s nothing wrong with buying time. The problem the Administration is getting into is directly related to its previous rush to explain. A few simple comments at the outset, making it plain that it was too early to fully explain what happened, would have given the Administration more wiggle room three weeks ago. The key now is to pass the issue to a non-partisan spokesperson at the State Dept or FBI. If not, then playing politics with this issue is the most likely continued outcome – never ideal with only five weeks before the election.

What’s your opinion of how the Obama Administration has handled the attacks in Libya? Give us your PR Verdict!

State Dept. vs. CNN: War of the Words

 State Dept. vs. CNN: War of the Words

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for the State Dept. for its unusually aggressive language. CNN is facing full PR heat.

The State Department and CNN are embroiled in a an ugly fight over the recovered journal of Chris Stevens, the late Ambassador to Libya, who was killed in a deadly attack on the US embassy. Using unusually strong language, State Dept. spokesman Philippe Reines said that when it comes to airing the contents of the journal, “CNN patting themselves on the back is disgusting” and that the cable news network “needed to be convinced to do the right thing.” CNN is now on the defensive. Has it been ethically caught out?

While the sequence of events is unclear, what is known is that CNN got hold of Stevens’ journal and used it in its reporting. Explaining that the journal was found four days after the attack, CNN says it notified Stevens’ family “within hours after it was discovered.” From there, the story gets messy.

The State Dept. says the network “completely ignored the wishes of the family” and reported on the contents of the journal before returning it to the family, despite the family’s repeated requests that nothing be used until they had a chance to review its contents. CNN went ahead with its story, saying it “felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting.”

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for the State Dept. for its unusually aggressive language. CNN is facing full PR heat.

The PR Takeaway: Self-interest rarely wins the PR battle. Having passed the journal’s contents around a newsroom and only then asking the family for permission for its use puts CNN in a ethically challenging spot. Unless CNN can get some ringing endorsement from the Stevens family, it has lost this PR battle. The State Dept. has the clear upper hand in this case, speaking on behalf of the family of the slain ambassador. Meanwhile, CNN is left looking like it might benefit from a refresher course in ethics and common decency.

Was Stevens’ journal fair game for journalistic reporting, or should CNN have abided by his family’s wishes? Give us your PR Verdict!