The President’s Speech: Not What He Needed

He Needed To Be Great.  He Wasn’t

In my last post, I suggested that the President take some PR advice from me for his speech tonight. I’m sure some would disagree with my advice, but I’m scoring him against it anyhow.

I made five specific recommendations. Here they are and how I think Obama did in each one:

1. At all costs, stop being pedantic.

The President started out laying down some logic. Then he evolved that logic step-by-step to what he hoped would be clear conclusions. Logic is good, etc. But not what was needed. The American people need to understand what’s happening, but they also need to buy into what’s happening on an emotional level. He should have started the speech with a big bold statement: “I’m going to lead a national and global effort to …” Something of that nature. Then he can explain the logic. Then he can teach. Deduct points here.

  1. Lead.

The U.S., according to what Obama outlined, is “another” country. In fact, he isn’t going to allow the U.S. to become too aggressive (with boots on the ground). Why? “Because that’s exactly what ISIS wants.” They will use our stronger presence, he argues, for propaganda purposes. So? We are at war with ISIS. Well, at least ISIS is at war with us. So is the President saying that we are going to take actions or not on the premise of whether we are pleasing our enemy or not? A leader focuses on winning.  Deduct big points here.

  1. Be mad!

He was more emotional than he normally is, at least. But it would have been nice to say “he is really pissed off” (just like everyone else) after his speech. Deduct points again, I’m afraid.

  1. It’s time for Plain English and stark statements.

The speech was well crafted and understandable – although I lost track of his by-the-number points. It was far from strong oratory but it was OK. Give him some positive points here — he shouldn’t be totally skunked.

  1.  Get real about social networks and the war of ideas.

No mention. He is not showing any real knowledge of how this is a war of ideas. Big pity. Big deduction of points.

In the final analysis, as far as I am concerned, Obama lost a great opportunity. To tell the truth, I’m not certain why he thought he needed to give that speech to the American public. I wish I could be an Obama fan, but he makes that between very difficult to imposible.

photo credit to pool/Reuters

About Doug Poretz: After a four+ decade long career crafting public relations and communications strategies at the C-suite level, Doug now works with a limited number of clients, helping them rethink and improve their approach to how they communicate. For more about me, click here. For how I work with clients, click here. And for my numerous previous blog posts, click here. You can sign up for alerts about forthcoming posts by completing an easy form at my blog.

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