Congress’ brand is tearing down America’s

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PR Puzzler logoCan any brand be more in the dumps than that of Congress? As they returned to “work” last week, let’s pause and consider their sad state.

First, the obvious: you have the reputation you earn. And Congress has sorely earned its reputation for ineffectiveness, pettiness and venality. It’s like all those snoots you hated in high school finally get to be in charge and the first thing they do is settle old, trivial scores.

Repairing Congress’ image is no one person’s job. There are 535 individual brands jostling for attention. The two parties define themselves as NOT being the other, which ensures negativity. The only way to repair their reputation is to act their way out of it. Can they? Will they?

Shot of Congress It may seem ludicrous to reduce Congress’ ineptness to a brand discussion — except that their reputation is tearing down the American brand. Two centuries as a beacon of freedom and prosperity is at stake.

Shortly after Trump was elected, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. was asked if he worried about a president who had vowed to ban Muslim immigrants. The ambassador said he wasn’t, because he took to heart the American assurance that representative democracy is the system that self-corrects; whose checks and balances ensure against tyranny.

But can a Congress that can’t pass a budget be up to the task?

Yes, government dysfunction is the existential problem. But serious damage to the American ideal is the long-term concern.

Tweet by Ken Klipenstein shows case of water priced at $42.95Swim faster: The photo of a $43 case of water at Best Buy went viral after being posted by an online Houston journalist last week. The immediate conclusion was that Best Buy was capitalizing on Houstonites’ misfortune. It took about 24 hours for the Best Buy communication team to flood the social media channels with a clumsy statement. “First, this was clearly a mistake in a single store,” it began.

Well, not so clear. And I’m guessing the fact that it took nearly 24 hours for the Best Buy team to get to the bottom of the issue is evidence it wasn’t so clear to them, either. The statement excused/explained that a staff member in a single store simply multiplied the Best Buy retail price of a single bottle of water by 24 to come up with the per-case price.

It underscores the power every individual has in building or busting an organization’s brand. And the damage comes fast and serious in the age of social media. Best Buy, which blazed a trail years ago by handling tech issues via its Twitter Twelpforce team, should re-examine its social media monitoring process.

Steve Krizman is a communication and PR change agent who has led innovation in health care, journalism, and higher education. He currently is a tenure-track professor of PR and journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Steve is sole proprietor of Connected Communication, LLC, a consultancy that helps organizations develop integrated PR, communication, and marketing programs. His particular expertise is in the health industry, including insurance, health delivery systems, and digital health.

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