By Tim Hayes
The online question read:
The President was a guest today on 4 out of the 5 Sunday news shows; the 4 that generally advocate for his Presidency / programs. He did not go on the more critical Fox News. If a goal was to reach-out beyond his base, shouldn’t Fox News have been included?
Here’s my response:
Leadership is predicated on gaining followers. In the case of President Obama, he already has captured all the followers he’s going to get via the mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, the networks). Is that enough to get his legislative agenda passed? Perhaps not, as demonstrated by the awakening of the sleeping giant of conservative — or, at least, not as liberal — citizens across the country participating in Tea Parties and Town Hall meetings.
Americans like a leader who’s not afraid, who’s willing to take it right to the opposition, who believes enough in his own mind and in the core fairness of the American public to confront the tough questions and defend his policies on the merits. In bypassing Fox News, the President’s standing in this regard has taken on some dents. And unnecessarily so. Think of the credibility he would have gained, if only by walking confidently into the alleged “lion’s den” of a conservative media television studio.
As a national message development consultant to business leaders, I know that the key obviously is preparation. Figuring out the answers before the questions are asked. Determining the strongest way to make your case with confidence in yourself and command of the material. If CEOs of tech startups and Fortune 200 companies can do this, whether interacting with venture capitalists, shareholders, employees, or customers — all of whom can be as hostile as can be imagined — so should the President of the United States.
We like a President with guts. Preaching to the choir is easy, but cheap. Open-minded citizens want to truly understand what you’re advocating, which means taking criticism and taking questions. Many of them watch Fox News. So even at the most basic communications level, come on, Mr. President. Man up.
Copyright 2009 Tim Hayes Consulting