The Grand Old Party has been soul searching since its loss in November, seeking ways to win back the hearts of voters. With the election of its new Pope, a grand old religion has been soul searching as well. Both venerable institutions understand their significant challenges; both face a constituency that has drifted away from principles that seem out of step with the changes in the worlds they are trying to lead.
Much has been said lately about both the Republican Party’s and the Catholic Church’s public relations challenges. Wrote Michael Sebastion in PR Daily on March 14: “To embrace change, the church must overhaul its communication efforts. For instance, Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, told The Wall Street Journal that the church needs a fresh way of presenting its message. ‘Communications are going to be a big part of that,’ said Cardinal Wuerl said. ‘We have moved into this world of rapid communications. That’s all part of the new evangelization.'”
“We have more evidence that the GOP has a serious public image problem that, if not dealt with soon, will pose serious problems with the GOP in election years to come,” wrote Doug Mataconis in the February 27 issue of Outside the Beltway. “First up, there’s a new survey from Pew showing that, while voters see the GOP as principled, they also consider the party as being out of step with the country…Numbers like this explain quite well why the GOP consistently seems to be losing public relations battles with the president regardless of what the issue gripping the nation happens to be.”
The church must effectively address its sex abuse scandal before it worries about PR. The GOP must embrace a new platform to better answer a changing America. A PR manager’s seat at the table is supremely important when major decisions are made, but policy cannot be made soley through a PR prism; only true fundamental change for both institutions will move public opinion. Such change may be easier for the GOP than the Vatican, but public relations shouldn’t come before performance. Your thoughts?
P.S. On March 14, 1983 I began my career a PR practitioner. It’s been an amazing run and I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring!