I attended President Obama’s visit to V&M Star Steel last week as part of a project we’re working on for the expanding plant.
Although the President was, as usual, a terrific orator — it was the White House organization and “travel team” that impressed me from a marketing perspective.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSONAL CONTACT
PR tools like the common press release are important, but that’s the cold, sterile part of public relations. It’s the contact with an organization’s people that makes the best or worst impressions.
The White House “travel team” was an excellent model of “PR personified.” Business owners and mangers and non-profit organizations can apply the same concepts to situations where their people interact with the public.
CALM, COOL, COMPETENT
That’s the first impression you get. We dealt with the White House communications people. We had to arrange video and photography, and were squeezed in among the multitude of press and reporters.
I’m sure our contact person was swamped with special requests when we spoke to him, but he acted like we were the only people in the world when he was talking to us and handling our needs.
At the event, I saw network reporters complain about the limited (but equal to local TV stations) space they were given. Our contact explained it was the fair way and the only way. Minutes later, he got a call from a network executive trying to bully him. He calmly repeated the same line, and thanked the big shot for calling.
POLITE, PROFESSIONAL, VISUAL
The only group from the White House that might have been more impressive than the the media staff was the Secret Service.
They make movies about these guys for a reason. Most are tall, well-built and look very fit. With their buzz hair cuts and their constantly scanning eyes, they’re easy to pick out.
They look like they’re ready pounce on anyone that makes a move against the President. But at the same time, when approached, they’re very pleasant, polite and professional.
The biggest surprise was that they all looked like they stepped out of GQ. Conservative spin, but clearly upscale suits, and neat as a pin. THAT’S the look I want people to have if they represent my organization.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
What impression does your team leave? If you want an example to follow, all you have to do is follow the leader — the White House staff.
Stay Tuned and Stay Smart.