How much do you think should be spent for the U.S. government to tell you what they’ve accomplished? Well here’s the amount that is spent between advertising, private consultancies in public relations, and government employees working in separate press offices for the President as well the various cabinet ministries — $1.4 billion. Separated out, that’s $500 million for the government workers, $800 million for advertising, and $100 million for PR consultancies. Those figures come from a recent report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
According to Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary for the Obama administration, this administration “has made it a priority to interact with the public and interact with the press corps and to be as transparent as possible. That is work that requires dedicated professionals who are interested in furthering that goal and helping the American people understand exactly what the administration is doing, what we have prioritized, and what our success has been in implementing the agenda laid out by President Obama.”
They’ve managed to do all that by adding hundreds of public relations specialists as public employees. The sole purpose of those people is to make sure everyone knows about the achievements of the President.
The Obama Administration’s Victories
Now, let’s look at the achievements claimed by this administration: The White House press offices report they have turned the economy around by creating 14 million jobs and reducing the unemployment rate to less than 5% for the first time since before Obama took office. Through Obamacare, nearly 18 million people are now insured that were not before. And finally they claim to have dramatically cut budget deficits, making our future financial situation brighter.
Has anybody listened to the Presidential debates the last couple of months? Do you feel the money spent on all that PR was worth it? Do you feel like all those new PR specialists are making government efforts more transparent? Or, instead, do you feel they are muddying up the waters more than ever before?
Is the PR Worthwhile?
All of the above statements as to the administration’s successes are open for debate. Unemployment, some say, is down because people have given up or are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. 18 million have health coverage, but the cost is becoming exorbitant to individuals and the entire system. So much so that people pay for the insurance but can’t afford their medications or doctor visits.
This isn’t about whether PR is good or bad. Public relations is an amazing tool, but it can also be used for less than honorable purposes. As a people, we need to decide if the government is using our tax dollars on PR in a reasonable and honorable way.