The Art of Communications led by Karen Hughes

Study Group:  The Art of Communications

Much of my career experience has been in communications and this study group will discuss a wide range of communications issues, from political to international. 

Tuesday, February 19 Class One:  Trial by Fire:  September 11, 2001
The most shocking and difficult day during my time as Counselor to the President was full of communications challenges, from delivering a live briefing to the nation to preparing for a presidential prime time address.   Information was frequently wrong and often conflicting.  Internal communications were poor and at one point, operators could not reach President Bush.  We’ll discuss the day and its lessons as a window into the personal and professional challenges that face government communicators. 

Tuesday, February 26 Class Two:  The 5 C’s of effective communications
We’ll discuss the dirty little of secret about communications (it’s about everything you say and everything you DO), my philosophy of communications and the tools that I describe as the 5 “C’s” – clarity, conviction, compassion, consistency and credibility.  

Tuesday, March 5 Class Three:  Communicating in Crisis
Guest:   Karen Doyne, leader, Issues and Crisis Practice of Burson-Marsteller
Karen is one of the world’s leading crisis counselors, and advised Virginia Tech on its communications strategy in the days and weeks  after the tragic shootings there.  She’ll discuss lessons from her time counseling business leaders and serving as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, and lead us in an exercise of crisis decision-making.

Tuesday, March 12 Class Four:  Communications in the War on Terror
Guests:   Mary Matalin, former Assistant to the President and Counselor to Vice President Cheney
Victoria Clarke, former chief spokesperson for the Defense Department
In the days after September 11, as the United States military prepared for war, the leaders of the communications efforts at the White House, Department of Defense and State Department were all women.   Did gender impact the way they communicated?  What are the implications of labeling our actions against Al Qaeda a “war?” Has the use of religious language (jihadist, Islamic extremists, Islamists) hurt or helped our cause? How do the billion plus Muslims across the world hear those terms? How should a country that believes in the separation of church and state handle the religious nature of the terrorists’ beliefs? 

Tuesday, March 26 Class Five:  Communications Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Campaign
The tone of President Obama’s 2012 campaign was far different from the inspirational tone he set in 2008.  His early television ads defined Mitt Romney as a wealthy corporate raider who shipped American jobs overseas.  Romney played into that characterization with a series of comments (I like to fire people; the 47 percent remark) that made him look out of touch with average people.   We this election decided by tone rather than ideas and policies?   What are the implications of the way President Obama won on his ability to govern?   Is the Republican Party’s problem its message, its messenger or its policies? How can the Republican Party more effectively communicate with an increasingly diverse population?

Tuesday, April 2 Class Six:  Public Diplomacy 2.0 – The role of broadcasting and technology in America’s communications with the world
Guest:   Jim Glassman, former Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
The U.S. government’s complex network of media organizations today broadcasts in 60 languages to a worldwide weekly audience of more than 175 million people and includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the International Broadcasting Bureau. What is the role for U.S. government broadcasting in a world awash with news and information? How are satellite networks such as Al Jazeera affecting public opinion across the world?  How are social and digital media impacting America’s communications?  Given that our own country is politically divided, how can we best communicate our policies and interests with the world?

Tuesday, April 9 Class Seven:  Communicating with Purpose
Guest:  Roy Spence, co-founder and chairman of GSD&M advertising agency, co-author of It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose
Roy is one of the most creative and interesting communicators I know; through his advertising campaigns, he has learned to help businesses and individuals find their purpose and communicate (and deliver) much more effectively as a result.   Roy will explain how "purpose" is a "definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world" and is the “secret ingredient in any recipe for success.” Forty years ago and right out of college, Roy and several friends started an advertising firm in Austin, Texas that has grown into a prominent firm that works with global brands. Roy’s focus is to help people and organizations – like Southwest Airlines, the PGA Tour and John Deere – discover and live their purpose.   Roy is also active in Democratic politics and was an informal advisor to President Bill Clinton. 

Tuesday, April 16 Class Eight:  “America is Not the Way it Looks on Television.”
Those words, spoken by a young Chinese diplomat who had just returned from his first trip to America, continue to haunt me. Mass audiences in some of the poorest and least developed places across the world increasingly have access to television through satellite dishes. Television is one of the most powerful communications tools because people tend to give more credibility to something they’ve “seen” with their own eyes. And what is the world seeing? On September 11, the top rated television show in the Arab world was Baywatch. What can or should America do about the way its movies and television shows are communicating about it?