PRSSA welcomes local political analyst

Julie Balzarini

The University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America welcomed Jeff Jubelirer, principal of Ceisler Jubelirer on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in Tolentine 305. Ceisler Jubelirer implements strategic media relations, grassroots mobilization and issue advocacy programs for its non-profit, political and corporate clients. Jubelirer has also served as a political analyst for NBC-10 and FOX-29.

Jubelirer discussed the timely connection between public relations and politics, involving the 25 attendees in substantial discussion and interaction.

Jubelirer began his talk by relating presidential campaigns to the area of public relations.

“A political campaign is essentially a public relations campaign,” Jubelirer said. “Your product is your candidate.”

Jubelirer discussed the public relations aspect of the Republican Party’s debut of Gov. Sarah Palin, comparing her to a product that needed advertising. He applauded the Republican Party’s strategy of announcing her as John McCain’s running mate the day after Biden’s acceptance speech in Denver, Colo. “It was brilliant,” said Jubelirer. “They completely took Obama’s thunder.”

Jubelirer also discussed problems with Palin’s introduction from a public relations aspect. He referred to her interview with Katie Couric, which he viewed as imperfect. However, he defended her to some extent.

“She isn’t dumb,” Jubelirer said. “She wasn’t adequately media trained on many of McCain’s issues. They should have had her more prepared and used her strengths.”

Jubelirer also discussed the public relations aspect of press conferences. He explained the importance of the candidate’s appearance on TV.

“Everything speaks,” Jubelirer said. “Everything they do sends a message.”

For instance, he praised Obama’s choice of outfit during an outdoor press conference on a cold, rainy day.

“He wore jeans and a bomber jacket, which was very effective,” Jubelirer said. “It made him seem very approachable.”

Jubelirer interacted considerably with the attendees of his talk, asking what they thought about the debates from a public relations point of view. Several people brought up the issue of the split screen, which allows viewers to glimpse the non-speaking candidate’s non-verbal reactions.

Jubelirer brought up instances during the debates, like Obama laughing at some of McCain’s points and McCain looking angry during some of Obama’s answers, showing that these non-verbal actions impact public opinion.

“Words speak less than body language,” Jubelirer said.

The effect of Joe the Plummer was also discussed at Jubelirer’s talk. From a public relations standpoint, Jubelirer thought that Joe was an effective strategy for McCain because the middle class related to him.

“McCain took an issue [tax increases] and gave us a human interest story,” Jubelirer said. “Everyone will remember Joe the Plummer; you have that image of him in your mind.”

Jubelirer asked the audience, “If Obama and McCain were products, what would they be?”

Attendees thought Obama might be Pepsi or a Mac computer, which Jubelirer agreed with.

“He brings that sense of newness, something hip,” Jubelirer said.

He felt that McCain would be something like Quaker Oatmeal.

“It’s warm, comforting, it makes you feel safe,” Jubelirer said.

Jubelirer ended his interactive talk by sharing his feelings about political campaigns in general.

“A campaign is an event,” he said. “That’s what I love about them. It’s either going to work or it’s not, and then it’s over.”

PRSSA will hold its second event of the year on Nove. 14 at 6 p.m. in Tolentine 215, where it will hoste Steven V. Restivo, the director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart in the Northeast Region. Restivo will discuss the evolution of Wal-Mart’s communication and business strategy throughout its development as the largest retailer in the world.