Survey: Obama Gets It Right

Jeff Morosoff, Special Asst. Professor, Hofstra University

The photo (below) of a smiling, sunglassed Barack Obama includes a caption. “Sorry it took so long to get you my birth certificate,” it reads. “I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden.”  The unattributed humorous photo went virile on the Internet moments after the president’s announcement, serving to frame the issues of the last couple of weeks.

If you agree that America did the right thing by hunting and killing the world’s most wanted terrorist, you probably share the results of a very informal university classroom survey that said President Obama has gotten the post-event messaging right.  And if public relations is supposed to be about informing your publics, reinforcing opinions, and/or influencing actions toward a desired result, it certainly seems Mr. Obama is implementing a masterful strategy.  The solemn late night announcement; the low-key trip to the Ground Zero firehouse, police station and future memorial; the invitation to President Bush; the congratulations visit to the special operations troops; and the 60 Minutes interview were indeed a victory lap, but the president’s activities accomplished something important: he did his victory dance without spiking the football.  It’s been a pitch-perfect display of leadership, void of cockiness and swagger.

And if you’re the president, that, fellow PR practitioners, is how to thumb your nose at the Trumps and Limbaughs of the world.  Show leadership by taking an important action, inform your audience, reinforce their opinions, and aim high for your desired result.  The week’s real-world events, and the superb communications campaign that followed, seem to have sidelined the silly birth certificate controversy and elevated public opinion of our president–and our nation–here and around the world.  A victory lap indeed.  Your thoughts?

11 thoughts on “Survey: Obama Gets It Right

  1. Alyssa

    I think everyone can agree that President Obama understands the power of publicity. He is an excellent public speaker and he knows how his words and actions come across in the media to the public. With presidential elections approaching and the eventual start of presidential campaigning this was key to keep Obama as a front candidate in the next elections. President Obama will always be remember for being the president who killed Osama bin Laden. His speeches, visits, and interviews about the killing all played a signifcant role the public image Obama wanted the public to see. Often critized for not doing much besides a healthcare reform with luke warm reception – Obama used the death of bin Laden to prove to Americans he is putting our safety above all else and can follow through with important issues that concern Americans. From this, Obama came off looking confident and in charge, not cocky. Perhaps his second term of presidency has a better shot then previous polls had suggested…public persona is everything!

  2. Heather Glazewski

    This was very convenient for Obama and he needed this. Its amazing how this even has completely turned around his image in the public’s eye, and made him a more positive person. I feel that this will allow Obama to now focus on other important things, and really start doing more hard work. It also shut the haters up for awhile.

  3. Kirsten

    My initial reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death was, “What perfect timing.” I have to wonder if U.S. intelligence and the Obama administration planned this historical event in the context of the media storm and accusations of illegitimacy from Trump and other GOP members? Or if it just so happened to occur at the time it did…

  4. Mike Margolis

    I think that Obama executed the Bin Laden assassination almost perfectly from a PR standpoint. There were two problems that I had with it though: 1) They administration made it seemed like there was a prolonged firefight once in the compound, which just wasn’t true and 2) He made it seem like this wasn’t necessarily a search and destroy mission, but later came out and said it was.

    However, it was a brilliant move to dump his body in the ocean according to Muslim practices within 24 hours. There now cannot be any shrines with his body, and it was still done respectfully. The quickness of it was paramount, as was his very quiet trip to Ground Zero. And please, tell me you’ve seen the Obama speech at the Press Banquet the night before the Osama killing; I have never seen a president crack so many jokes (and several were directed at Thrump).

  5. Whitney Steiner

    I thought that that photo was hilarious when I first saw it. Considering Obama’s heightened support ratings, he must’ve done something right. I can not even begin to imagine the PR plan that his team must have come up with prior to this mission. I have to give him props… well done.

  6. Kalli Dionysiou

    I think Obama made a great PR move for the country. This was a delicate situation to deal with and he did it with class when he could have really taken advantage of the situation and really made a fool out of America by parading a corpse through the media. Good job Obama!

  7. Paul Chauvin

    I really liked the way President Obama handled this news and spread it to the world. It would have been easy for him to present it in an ultra-patriotic manner, but instead he did it calmly and with the weight that it required. We’ll have to wait and see if his bump in approval ratings lasts, but for now he has found a way to silence some of his critics.

  8. vfrary

    I think that President Obama did the right thing by making a “tour” of places to visit after Osama bin Laden was killed. I also think that he was not overly cocky about this victory, which is admirable since it was an event 10 years in the making. I think that Obama needed this, as I said in my blog, because he was losing support from the people that elected him. Although this could have happened at a more convenient time-right before the election-I think that this is something that will stick with voters until then.

  9. Amanda Nissenbaum

    So I definitely agree that the US is once again coming together as one, and that it is a great feeling that the man who was behind killing so many innocent Americans is now dead. However, I do not feel that this is over, and after to speaking to others, they feel the same way. Although everything has turned around and the death of Osama has changed the subject matter from Obama’s birth certificate I will still stick to my guns and although praise him for what he just did, I have to still wonder how come it took Obama so long to present this birth certificate.

  10. Eileen Rodriguez

    While I completely that President Obama (and those that advise him) have done an amazing job to get the post-event message right, I do not think that all of this praise for him will last long. There will always be people who wholeheartedly support Obama, those that dislike him and everything that he states and others who are somewhere in the middle.

    I think Obama’s rise in support right now is due to some of the people who are constantly unsure of their feelings towards him, jumping on the support bandwagon. This is good for now, but these individuals are so easily swayed that how they will feel in a year, a month or even a week is unpredictable.

  11. Michael Tarantino

    “he did his victory dance without spiking the football.” Very well put. I could not agree with you more in regards to how classy and professional President Obama has handled himself in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death. It could have been very easy for the President to gloat about finally tracking down and killing the world’s most wanted terrorist when his predecessor failed to do so. On the flip side it also could have been easy for him to not take full of advantage of this positive pr and leverage it towards his upcoming re-election. President Obama’s communication advisers should be commended for how they handles this momentous event.


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