GOP: OK With Sequester, or Not?

 GOP: OK With Sequester, or Not?

THE PR VERDICT: “F” for the GOP and Republicans for their post sequester messaging.

What, no triumphant headlines or gloating from the GOP? Has it suddenly discovered a new level of modesty? Days after the sequester debate has reached the end of its life cycle, the GOP and Republican politicians seem remarkably low key about their latest political triumph. Puzzling, to say the least.

From the get go, President Obama has been clear: He hated the sequester. A bad and clumsy mechanism to reduce spending that would only hurt middle and low-income earners. Bad for the economy, bad for the recovery. In PR terms, his case was an easy read.

Republicans, on the other hand, made it clear that spending needed to be reined in. This showdown was going to highlight their resolve to cut spending and bring the deficit back in line. But since then, the triumphant tone in Republican communication has been increasingly limp and muddled. House Speaker John Boehner said, “I didn’t like it anymore than anybody else liked it,” while other Congressional peers including Jim Jordan said: “The sequester should happen… That is good.” Sen. Lindsey Graham told the media, “The cumulative effect of sequestration is bad for defense.” So, is the GOP  happy with the cuts or not? What is the official party line – or is there one?

THE PR VERDICT: “F” for the GOP and Republicans for their post sequester messaging. Confusing at best.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Don’t air your doubt in public. Just weeks ago, GOP messaging was clear: Government spending was out of hand, and the American electorate had handed them a mandate to rein it in. Now that the cuts are in place, the PR messaging is confused and contradictory, playing straight into concerns that the cuts are iron-fisted and potentially damaging to the fragile recovery. What changed in the space of a couple of weeks? Now is the time for the GOP  to revisit and unify its messaging. Public displays of ambivalence in moments like this rarely offers any protection against public reactions of hostility. Without a change, the GOP and Republican Congress is unintentionally poised to take the blame for a later slow-down. Of course, if that was their intention, well, mission accomplished.


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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Lynn de Forrester Rothschild. What happens when people turn on their own? That might have been the reaction to the op-ed by Rothschild, chief executive of the famous family’s investment holding company. In the week of the rapidly approaching sequester deadline, Rothschild questioned in Monday’s New York Times the intellectual justification for the “carried interest” exemption that effectively minimizes the tax bill for private equity, hedge fund managers, and investment trusts. Describing the tax exemption as violating basic standards of “fairness and common sense,” she joined the ranks of other financial notables like Warren Buffet by penning a point of view with punch. As calls for spending cuts intensify, this was a timely addition to a debate that continues to stall. In this case it was the identity of the author that made this a PR moment.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (“Full Fiasco”) to The OnionAs much as we love the biting humor of The Onion, the satirical publication earns this week’s PR Loser Award for its wildly offensive and unfunny Tweet about nine-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis during the Oscars. Presumably the Tweeter thought referring to an adorable child (who carried a puppy purse to the awards) as one of the most vulgar words in the English language would be groundbreakingly clever and hilarious. Despite an immediate apology from CEO Steve Hannah, however, the mark was badly missed. In one of the most controversial awards shows ever, The Onion crossed far over the line.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Michelle Williams. If there were presses to be stopped, we’d be yelling that famous line now; if you weren’t already sitting down to read this, please do so. Members of the press, prepare: Actress Michelle Williams has announced that she is growing out her pixie haircut. Yes, yes, we know: shocking. Now, we’re not so busy examining matters of papal shakeups and sequester-related furloughs that we don’t like our media candy as well as the next person. But surely the press junket for Oz: The Great and Powerful couldn’t have been dull enough to warrant this many quotes about the Williams’ do. PRs for the film, take note – and take control of the interviews.