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Political Persuasion

A college student's perspective on the two crazy worlds of PR and politics

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JFK

Theodore Sorensen’s Legacy

As many of you know, Theodore Sorensen, who was JFK’s brilliant speechwriter and close adviser, passed away today at a New York hospital at the age of 82. Sorensen has a rich legacy, and I believe Tim Wiener’s piece in the New York Times does an excellent job highlighting many of Sorensen’s accomplishments and meaningful contributions to the JFK administration.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about Kennedy’s historic presidential campaign.  As I read through various articles online, I came across Sorensen’s name and learned that he was particularly influential in overcoming anti-Catholic prejudice when JFK decided to run for office.

He is probably best known for working with JFK on his 1961 inaugural address, which challenged Americans with the infamous phrase: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  According to Weiner’s article in the New York Times, Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill for inspiration.

What I find interesting is that in spite all the media we are bombarded with today, we cannot neglect the power of words.  Sorensen’s talent and wisdom will transcend generations.  His words and insights will be used as inspiration for years to come.

“We stand today on the edge of a new frontier”

Today, I decided to take a look at what inspired me to create this blog–clever campaign advertisements that revolutionized the way we look at PR and politics. There is no denying that JFK completely changed the way Americans view the modern President.  He was an expert at cultivating an image for himself, and gaining the trust of Americans nationwide.

The charismatic Senator from Massachusetts proved to Americans that we were ready for a”new frontier”–one that incorporates intelligence, sophistication and renewed faith in the Presidency.  JFK (with the help of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy) became a fashion icon.  Legend has it that JFK even ended the tradition of men wearing formal hats in the United States.

When you look at the advertisement above, you cannot help but remember the Kennedy name.  As the catchy jingle comes to an end, you are left with an image of JFK and his family.   This image paved the way for future presidential candidates, and showed that Americans DO care about a candidate’s personal life. When President Obama decided to run for office, I remember hearing as much about his family as I did about his public policy agenda.

There are so many factors, especially now with a 24/7 news cycle, that go into creating a successful political campaign.  JFK’s interactions with the media and innovative ad campaign helped us realize the complexity of politics and public opinion.

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