Passive Communication is Poor Communication, Mr. President

By Andrew Overton
posted on May 18, 2013 in Politics and Society

There's been no shortage of criticism of the Obama Administration's communication efforts during the president’s first term. They botched communicating the benefits of his signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives successfully communicated their take on the bill, and although it did pass, the bill’s passage came at a great political cost. By failing to be out in front, Obama let his political opponents drive the dialogue. The Obama Administration should have learned a valuable communication lesson: being proactive is key to controlling the message.

On foreign policy, the right consistently accuses Obama of “leading from behind.” With unemployment where it is and the public's limited patience towards foreign entanglements following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I can't say I blame the man. However, on domestic policy, there is a lot of room for the administration to improve its strategic communications.

From Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, our best presidents drive the media narrative by communicating directly to the American people. Riding closely on the heels of George W. Bush, President Obama is one of the most elusive presidents when a camera is around. Press conferences are uncommon and Q&A sessions are a true rarity.

We began to see hints of a more aggressive communications strategy during the glorious failure of the gun control legislation. President Obama needs to make his case to the American people. He is a good communicator. In 2008, Obama inspired millions of Americans and drove them to the polls in record numbers. Obama has high favorables and people who don't necessarily agree with him, like him. He should not hide from the camera. President Roosevelt appealed to Americans in his fireside chats. Obama should be follow in those footsteps.