Now everybody knows your name

Less than a year ago, the name Barack Obama was new to most people around the world, but today, it will be on the lips of a large percentage of the global population.

I was born in the same year, 1961, and cannot imagine either wanting the top job in the US or ever having set out to achieve it.  He is portrayed as a young man, but I’m sure many of us reaching 50 in a couple of years would question having the energy or the enthusiasm for the big issues that undoubtedly lie ahead.

Google web has 122 million links to his name, 19.4 million under images and over 10 million in the blogs listing.  Within hours, these numbers can be expected to increase significantly, and every day from now on more online comment will be added to his “scrapbook”.

Obama and his team (including his family) must be masters of public relations.  Everything they do, everything they say and everything that others say about them will be recorded and scrutinised, thanks to the web to infinity and beyond.

Today’s inauguration speech is one of the most important pieces of rhetoric in modern history.  You can be sure his PR advisors have examined every word, every syllable, in the 17 minute script over and over again.  Each will have been carefully selected – and soundbites will have been crafted for the traditional media, as well as for downloads from YouTube, podcasts, etc etc.

Each element of the presentation and Obama’s delivery will be rehearsed, enough to make it appear totally natural.  This is the ultimate in PR planning – and every possible risk and crisis will have been considered, and ideally mitigated.

Can you imagine getting up this morning and knowing this is the biggest PR project of your life?  It is some job to co-ordinate the cast of thousands involved officially, and be prepared for the tens of thousands who want to share their own piece of the legacy in person in Washington, as satisfying the communication needs of the millions of individuals watching from around the planet.

Some days like 9th September 2001 unfold as significant in history, others like today we know are coming.  Everyone interested in public relations will have a case study to examine in minute detail. 

And thanks to the Internet, we’ll have an instant recording of it all to analyse for years to come.

Published by

Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.