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Monday, October 7, 2013

5 Elements of Stephanie Cutter's PR Genius


I don't agree with Stephanie Cutter's politics. But every time I see her on TV, I find myself taking notes. In a cluttered field of talking heads she comes across as committed, credible, consistent and extraordinarily skilled at what she does.

Here she is in an interview on CNN discussing the current government shutdown.



Watching closely, there are at least 5 tactics she employed that translate into any situation:

1. Acknowledgment: Cutter is in touch with the popular consciousness. She begins by acknowledging what the audience is thinking, even if it may technically hurt her side: In a shutdown, "nobody wins."

2. Attack: Cutter is direct, not tentative or mealymouthed. She goes after the opposition head-on, claiming that the shutdown is a crisis that the Republicans "manufactured." She also calls the Republicans arsonists.

3. Think High-Contrast: She tells a very simple, black-and-white story in which her client is good and the opposition is bad. I can easily imagine myself nodding my head as she explains how a faction of the Republican party ran a campaign to derail Obamacare by holding the government hostage, how this is bad, and how the American people should blame them.

4. Narrow It Down: Cutter pins the blame on a single person or small group rather than an abstract entity: The shutdown is "a crisis that your guest (Ted Cruz) manufactured."

5. Clothes To Keep Yourself Out Of It: Cutter dresses in a way that does not distract from her message: black blazer and thin gold necklace, conservative hairstyle and minimal makeup.

Cutter is frequently on CNN and there are videos of her talking on YouTube. Any PR professional would do well to reach into their desk drawer and pull out a sheaf of notes from Cutter's playbook.

* All opinions my own.