State of the Union: When an Ad-Lib Becomes a #PRWin

There was actually a State of the Union burn sighting last night, but was it a PR win?


(Photo Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing)

As America prepared for overused cliches, political jargon, and the usual drinking games, President Obama took the lectern to address us all.

He hit the big topics: the middle class, the war on terror, and the state of health care. He stood tall on important causes such as equal pay, gay rights, and the minimum wage.

And then came the shot heard round the Capitol Rotunda that could have won him the #PRWin of the night. The great part was that it was nowhere near a teleprompter or a script.

As the President rounded the corner and approached the finish line, it happened: an (alleged) ad-lib during the most important speaking opportunity in the world.

Obama: “I have no more campaigns to run.”

A Few Republicans: *applause*

Everyone: *laughter*

Obama: “I know because I won both of them.”

(America: BURN!)

All networks have been discussing this moment because it was unscripted, unrehearsed, and unreal. How dare the president swerve away from the teleprompter and careen smooth into a gaggle of GOP card holders?

Sometimes during the interview process, the media representative asks your client something you did not prepare for, rehearse, or even consider. At moments like these, you can only hope the client becomes the Jedi he or she was always meant to be.

President Obama is a skilled orator, he but has a glaring Achilles’ heel — extemporaneous speaking has never been his strong suit.

As a PR representative, you have to be a glass-half-full type; interviews will always include the sundry intangibles that can either make or ruin an appearance. Presidential speeches are never easy and rarely, if ever, qualify as “a slam dunk” — so one has to look for transcendent moments like this one.

Fortunately for this president, this may have been one of those rare times when media trainers can say, “You really nailed it here.”

What do we think?

Publish date: January 21, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT