Time For Congress To Throw Out The Old PR Playbook

When it comes to PR, things are so bad on Capitol Hill, the legislative branch of our Federal government may soon be called the “Embattled Congress.”

On social media and on the cable “news” channels (a.k.a. “Scream TV”), there has been so much partisan finger pointing in recent days, parents across America are worried that someone is going to poke their eye out. But, the research shows that most of America blames Congress as a whole for not really fixing the problems it confronted. A recent public opinion poll by the New York Times reports that 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, the worst such number in the history of the poll. Yes, Congress itself has a PR problem.

There are multiple reasons for this. One, Americans aren’t as stupid as politicians often think they are. The public can see when an organization – whether it be a unit of government or a corporation – isn’t working in the public’s best interest. The public can see through “spin.” And that leads us to another reason why Congress is in this PR mess – political PR itself.

Typically, political PR is focused on one thing – making an individual look good so he or she can get re-elected. Period. At the party level, it’s generally about making the party look like it has the solutions so its members can get elected or re-elected. Period.

Rarely, if ever, is political PR about long-term strategies of communicating with constituents on how the progress of long-term problems in complicated ways. It’s too often about soundbites, attacks and press releases on how spending taxpayer money benefits states and communities (when the whole problem is about spending money in the first place).

Congress, as a whole, needs to rewrite its PR playbook. Mudslinging, partisanship and phony compromise (not to mention hundreds of bogus press releases) doesn’t really “work” after all.