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Posts Tagged ‘inauguration’

January 19th, 2009

Obama’s Inauguration Costs – What Good PR Can Do

President elect Obama’s inauguration gala is tomorrow and the total cost of the celebration has been estimated to be upwards of $160 million.  The PR team behind this should get a medal.  In the midst of an economic crisis, shortly after the PR nightmare of fiscally irresponsible corporations, not many people seem to care about this hefty price tag…or maybe they do, and we’re just not hearing about it.

That’s good PR.  The general public and policy makers seem to be OK with this number. Admittedly there are several factors to take into account.  Yes, the money has been raised by the campaign and how they spend it is mostly to their discretion.  However, included in that $160 million estimate is the price of intense security and transportation – courtesy of the government, aka taxpayers.

To put this in perspective, 4 years ago Bush spent around $40 million on his inauguration celebration.  At that time, with an on-going war and the economy starting to decline, Bush was met with harsh criticism and encouraged to be more frugal.  Obama and co. don’t seem to be having the same issues.

That tidbit of information has been widely circulated.  What is less known is that the $40 million Bush spent doesn’t include the astronomical cost of the security and transportation that is included in the published estimate for Obama.  The estimated cost of security/transportation/federal salaries etc. spent on Bush’s inauguration by the government was $115 million.  Add that to the $40 million Bush spent and suddenly the difference between the two inauguration’s pricetags diminishes significantly.  Check out this story from Media Matters for more details and the source of these figures.

Our goal isn’t to finger point or judge whether this is good or bad, it is simply to point out how important a great public relations team can be.  There are two fine examples of PR spin at work here, one from each side.  The first is the fact that this celebration will cost a lot of money, but the Obama public relations team has succeeded in downplaying it and making it a non-issue in the eyes of the public.  The second is the burying or, worded less harshly, non-disclosure of certain aspects of where exactly both of these cost estimates come from. A good move from the Obama opponent side, but we have to ask – Isn’t the fact that this information doesn’t seem to ‘matter’ to the public yet another result of the stellar PR work being done by Obama’s team? What do you think?

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