Can you do better PR than this?

The day after Obama was inaugurated visitors touring the White House were surprised to meet the president and first lady. Watch this short video to see what happened and how the visitors reacted:

Personally believe what the first couple did in combination with releasing the video is as good as PR can get. Disagree with me? Well, Merriam-Webster defines public relations as follows: the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also :the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved.

So is it possible to do better PR than the Obamas did that day? The busiest man in the world takes the time to say hello to visitors in the White House. If you are pro or con the Obamas is beside the point. What we are looking at here is an excellent way of doing PR for yourself as a person and what you are doing. Also keep in mind that the president cannot be elected again, which makes what they did even better from a PR point of view since it doesn’t look as selfish as it otherwise would have.  Obviously if the video had not been released what they did would have had less impact.

The same type of goodwill is created when the CEO of a company takes the time to visit and say hello to employees of all levels in their offices and plants. Such gestures benefits the company tremendously because, as we all know, staff that feels valued, work harder and get better results.

Do you think it was excellent PR for the Obamas to surprise visitors at the White House? Do you think it increased the visitors goodwill and liking of the first couple? Should company leaders do as the first couple and visit as many employees as possible to make them feel valued and important? Do you believe PR can be much better done than what we have seen in this example? 

Video: whitehouse

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39 Responses to “Can you do better PR than this?”

  1. Leora Says:

    I try to say little about politics online, so I will just tell my friend's story about being a PR manager. She worked for a firm that wanted her to produce stellar, friendly, "aren't we wonderful" PR. She didn't think the firm was wonderful – she didn't want to be their cover. So she left. I hope she likes her new job better.
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  2. catarinaalexon Says:

    Leora, "aren't we wonderful" PR works. In fact, that's what PR is all about. Glad your friend is happier in her new job. Can't help wondering why she was working for a company she didn't like in the first place?:-)

    By the way, you are right not to talk about politics online. But this post is not about politics only PR. Quite a few companies have something to learn from this example of how to do PR.

  3. Geek Girl Says:

    You are absolutely correct! This is PR at its best. You can't pay for this stuff. It's these small things that make a huge impact. Companies would do well to pay attention.

    This reminds me of the mentally challenged boy who bagged groceries. His way of making a difference was to put a different motivational quote in to each person's bag of groceries each day. People would actually go out of their way to check out through his lane just to get his quotes, even if they had to wait in line.

    It truly is the small things that make a difference. People pay attention.
    My recent post And The Winner For The Canon Rebel T3 Camera Is…

  4. Gerald Smith Says:

    I think it was great PR. I have worked for big companies before and when the big shots from head office come down its normally just to criticize your efforts and has the opposite effect. Its not something to look forward too.

    However, if it was done like this and your CEO came down to congragulate you in person, or your team it would be great PR.
    My recent post How to get bigger muscles

  5. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree it's great PR. And it should be done in companies as well.

  6. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, it really was PR at its best, Cheryl. The example you make about the boy who bagged groceries is great too. There are so many little things that can be done that makes a huge difference.

  7. Jeannette Says:

    One can never go wrong by showing genuine personal interest – in any profession. Kuddo's to the Obama's.

  8. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    Catarina — I think what the President and First Lady did is excellent PR. It was a way of saying thank-you to those who re-elected him and to humanize the man in the office. And, yes, CEOs should meet and greet front-line employees. It takes so little time and will reap rewards such as increased loyalty and your employees acting as brand advocates for the company. The personal touch cannot be overestimated.
    My recent post Do Community Managers and Social Media Managers Have Different Roles?

  9. Susan Oakes Says:

    It was a great piece of PR and including their dog went one step further as it added another dimension. Making an video meant the episode went even further. For companies that have orientation days having the directors do a meet and greet instead of boring talks I think would work well. Video it if they like and put it on the website so the human element of the company comes through.

  10. becc03 Says:

    I remember being employed at a company where my Uncle was fairly high up in another department. He gained so much respect because he knew everyones name and took the time to talk to them.
    I learned that lesson from him at the time but may well have forgotten it along the way. This post is a great reminder :)
    My recent post They call it the fat mentality

  11. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you Jeannette.

  12. catarinaalexon Says:

    Exactly Jeannette. Their PR was excellent and the personal touch cannot be overestimated.

  13. catarinaalexon Says:

    Great idea Susan for companies when they have orientation days mave directors do a meet and greet, video it and put on their website. You are right that it makes the human element of the company come through.

  14. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good for your uncle, Becc. He sure knew how to do good PR for himself.

  15. GuyW Says:

    Whether you run a business or a country (or a city, a state, a….), having personal contact with your stakeholders is essential. This means not just seeing the big customers/suppliers/donors, but the little ones, too.

    What President Obama did was excellent PR – not just for him, but for his whole government. More political leaders should do this – they are generally far too remote from the "ordinary people" and out of touch with what's really happening, as a result.

    It's no different for those running a business – keep in personal contact with your stakeholders…

  16. catarinaalexon Says:

    Spot on Guy!

  17. findingourwaynow Says:

    It was an amzing thing to do. PR aside, it appeared genuine and heart felt. The word will spread way beyond the video from the ones who were there about how it made them feel and that we matter. Just my thoughts. :-)
    My recent post La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2010: Wine

  18. @john_mulroy Says:

    it is not possible for better PR than this,,,congrats,,only thing that could have bettered the same idea,,,was a room after for all to go to for tea or coffee,,and talk about what had just happened,,with other people who were also going through on tours who had not the chance to meet The Obama's,,maybe TV,,showing it

  19. Kelly Wade Says:

    I do agree it was great PR to have the President and first lady personally meet visitors of the white house. Obviously this tactic would have been less effective if this video wasn't made, but its a good strategy for companies to keep in mind. If the owner of a company takes the time to meet with customers imagine the positive feedback those customers would give, and the news spreading of personal interaction like that would certainly foster incredibly beneficial attitudes toward a company, making them seem less self-serving.
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  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree John.

  21. JeriWB Says:

    Showing your human side counts for so much, and yet so many bosses forget that point. It's the most simple thing in the world to say hello and ask about somebody's day. My favorite bosses have always been the ones who make the effort to get to know me or who find common interests to talk about. Otherwise, it's hard to want to stand behind someone and support their leadership.
    My recent post Book Review: The Death of Wendell Mackey by C. T. Westing

  22. rethagroenewald Says:

    Wow, I agree with you totally. This is a great PR example, one we can learn from

  23. catarinaalexon Says:

    Defintitely Margaretha.

  24. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Jeri.

  25. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Kelly. Richard Branson has taken the time to meet customers for a long time. And look at how well his companies are doing:-)

  26. Slim Says:

    Excellent. The VP and CEO of our bank had his office on the first floor, right behind the tellers. That was where he could be best positioned for interacting with the customers.
    My recent post The Mall as the New City

  27. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Slim.

  28. Heather Stone Says:

    Hi Catarina,
    The simplest PR and marketing is often the best. Of course, there's plenty of brand building that went before this. Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community.
    My recent post A Business Model That Will Blow Your Mind and 10 Ways You Can Improve Yours

  29. Laura Sherman Says:

    Wow, that is a great video and a great concept. When people get into power they need to remember the people who got them there. Thanks for sharing this with me and reminding me what good PR is all about!
    My recent post Are You Writing A Book?

  30. catarinaalexon Says:

    My pleasure. Glad you agree.

  31. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes it's a great video and PR isn't it Laura. They need to remember the people who got them there as you say, Spot on.

  32. Radu Says:

    I don't think you can beat that easy, in fact he is the President of the Free World sort of speak and it's an honor to met him in any circumstances.

  33. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree that the PR the Obamas did was excellent, Radu.

  34. montri vitayasak Says:

    It is the excellent PR. I never seen any activity like this before, so I hope these will be one of job for the Managers in every organization have to follow for better relation to the team and for better Productivityas I ever heard that thegood Managers have to Manage by walking around.

  35. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree it's good PR and managers should follow suit, Montri.

  36. Valerie Remy-Milora Says:

    It is good PR indeed, and it is clear the Obama team has a good PR team. It was evident with their social media use as well as direct marketing efforts during the campaign. And you are right Catarina, the power of this is in the fact that it was carefully orchestrated, filmed and broadcast. All company CEO's need to remember the value of one-on-one interactions with their audience, even if it consists of simple handshake and a few words. Not doing this can have the opposite effect. I've seen it at conferences when an expert talks about the importance of putting service first but then only makes him or herself available for VIP or high paying customers… they instantly loose credibility.
    My recent post The Secret to Meaningful Communication with Your Child

  37. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree Valerie.

  38. Rynessa Cutting Says:

    That was really nice. It's amazing to see how meaningful such a small action could be to some people. I definitely think that something like this would greatly benefit high-profile personas in a company. I worked in a corporate environment and companies make such an effort with their external public, and their internal relations are in disarray. It's good to be able to put a face to a name, you know?
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  39. catarinaalexon Says:

    True, Rynessa in many companies it works like that. Members of the c-suite in such companies should follow in the footsteps of the Obamas.

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