CommCore Blog and News

A or B: Do we appoint the best communicator?

Lawrence Glazer, managing partner of Mayflower Advisors in Boston, commented this week that whoever President-elect Obama picks to run the Treasury Dept., it was critically important that the Secretary be able to communicate clearly and simply about the impact of the ongoing economic predicament and the implications of any new policies.

“It’s a very complicated financial landscape,” he said. “Being able to convey this in simple terms to the American public is key. Someone with political experience would be helpful,” Glazer added.

Question: Was this a not-so-veiled swipe at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his technical and jargon-filled public comments in the 48 hours before Congress turned down the first rescue package?

Clearly a better politician than Paulson might have done a better job of selling Congress or would have had provisions in the rescue package that benefited more stakeholders than just the financial services industry. Paulson’s experience is a reminder that being smart and experienced in your field is only part of the skill set required in public policy/political arena these days.

What do you think about Glazer’s comment? Should the Obama administration take communications skills into account for the job of Treasury Secretary? Or should that job be left to the President so he can hire the best financial strategist available regardless of communication skills?


Bob Frump

Paulson did not have to be a great communicator — just realize the need for great communications.
Unfortunately, this is one of the byproducts of an executive position on Wall Street. You don’t get the media polish that government officials get from constant buffeting with reporters. It’s not that the financial services sector is soft on executives necessarily — though I do think this is true prior to a crisis, after which they simply join the media scrum — but because the execs don’t have to be responsive, and analysts pull their punches.

Nick Peters, SVP CommCore

Unfortunately, Bob, in the presence of a President not known for communicating anything clearly, the Treasury Secretary found himself front-and-center, his technical wording resonating not just with the markets and congress, but with the public as well. The result, I believe, was to sow more confusion than necessary about the “bailout” because he didn’t recognize the difference, or more likely wasn’t made aware of the need to communicate to those constituencies differently. Obviously, pressure was huge and fast action was required, and that didn’t help things. Fact is, Main Street was watching the man on C-Span because President Bush was MIA. And Paulson’s language in those initial pronouncements confused and scared much of the public.

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