The United States of Public Relations  

The State of Some of the States

More attention is being focused on individual states in 2015 than in any recent years. The deep fissures that are developing along racial, civil and right to work lines began to break apart in 2015, causing career-threatening crises for governors of many states across the nation.  The first governor to publicly reach out for professional PR assistance was Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, who infamously signed into law a religious freedom act blatantly discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

As the state began drowning in a sea of bad press, and retaliation emerged in the form of widespread business and tourism boycotts, Pence called in Porter Novelli to help repair the state’s image, with ‘razor sharp strategy’.

Increased Media Scrutiny

Since then, significant bill signings in other states have come under increased scrutiny, while the media coverage ramping up across the United States. The Charleston massacre of nine members of the Emanuel AME church by 21-year old racist Dylann Roof brought the issues of racism and the confederate flag to the fore. A conversation was begun that day about race, equality and civil rights, albeit under the shadow of the confederate flag. Although she failed to remove the flag while State Senator Clementa Pinckney was lying in state, Governor Nikki Haley has called for its removal to a museum.

Public Relations, Anyone?

The Governor’s office did not responded to a call from me asking whether she reached out to a PR firm. While all Governors have media relations staff, the magnitude of the issues facing South Carolina demand the expertise of a major PR firm. Perhaps MWW, based in New Jersey, would be a good option for the governor. Although Governor Haley is off to a good start with the removal of the Confederate flag, MWW’s political expertise would make her and her state of South Carolina ‘Relentlessly Relevant’.

Right to Work

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been attracting bad press since taking office, even surviving a recall election before being elected for a second term. Many of his actions show the state in a poor light, not the least of which was his signing into law a Right to Work bill negatively affecting both public and private sector unions. He has introduced draconian measures against women’s rights, defunded Planned Parenthood, and in the process has become a divisive and controversial figure within the Republican Party. A call to his office asking if he is currently represented by a PR firm has not been returned, probably because he was busy readying his ‘I’m running for President too’ speech.  I suggest Red Shoes PR, which can help the Governor and the state of Wisconsin with ‘Meaningful and Strategic’ crisis communication.

The Diminished State of Texas

The image of Texas as a great state has been severely damaged in recent years, first by former Governor Rick Perry, who campaigned for the US Presidency in 2012. During that campaign, he failed to distinguish either himself or his state. Initially denying charges of racism which were subsequently proven to be accurate, he infamously failed to remember the name of a government agency he planned to get rid of during the course of a Presidential debate.

War on Women

Under Governor Greg Abbott, the state of Texas continues to be conservative in the extreme. Part of what has been dubbed the ‘War on Women’, Texas has passed very stringent abortion laws, one of which named HB 2, was over-ruled by a Supreme Court ruling last month. Abbott has refused to accept that Supreme Court ruling on HB 2, vowing to continue his fight to have the law enacted.

LGBTQ Averse

Late last month, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry, Texas again owned the headlines when it upheld the right of county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to members of the LGBTQ community.  The Governor himself wrote that the Supreme Court has become “an unelected nine-member legislature.”

It’s very difficult to say whether that statement was born from ignorance of the United States Constitution, or from a desire to be firmly branded a maverick. Either way, both Texas and Governor Abbott are in dire need of reparative PR.  For Texas, I suggest Ink-PR, who can help both the State and the Governor ‘turn chaos into compact communication’.

…   To be continued …