Oct 2001- Article 1
USA IN CRISIS: HOW IS GEORGE DOING?
The current media frenzy following the dramatic terrorist attacks bring home the point that politicians must not only be doing the right thing but also be seen to be doing so. President Bush so far has done well on these points. A brief summary of his media showing:
A leader in a crisis takes charge. he does not, like Napoleon at Waterloo, slump in indecisiveness. Bush was swift to demonstrate his outrage and then the action he was going to take and when he was going to do it.
Throughout the first days, he and his aides would communicate to the nation ( and world ) what was happening, what was going to be done and what had been done. Just as passengers on a delayed flight find waiting 20 minutes extra intolerable, a constant stream of information about the delay can help alleviate anxiety and anger. Similarly in the USA, President Bush's constant communication from Washington and then New York helped this cause.
President Bush's swift visit of Ground Zero - where the WTC stood - allowed him to express his grief and compassion. he also used the opportunity to enforce what he was going to do to the terrorists [ " They will hear from all of us ' ].
In 2000, when the Singapore Airlines plan crashed in flames in Taipei, SIA Public Relations boss Rick Clements softened the often grim media briefings to embrace a distraught relative of a victim who had somehow slipped past he security cordon around the media briefing table. His reaction was genuine and the gesture was not missed. The picture of him comforting the relative made headlines and showed that is was OK for a big corporation to show a human face.
When meeting firefighters and rescue worker, Mr Bush was clad appropriately in a green windbreaker, casting aside the formalities of his position as President. Statements were strong and emotional, in empathy with the people around him and the disaster zone. However, when making serious statements of a " new war", President Bush did so in dark suits with the US President's seal and flag prominent in the background. The gravitas of the situation was needed to match the serious messages being delivered. The shaping of these messages cannot be accidental.