Just how bad is Obamacare? It’s managed to supplant New Coke and the BP oil spill in the pantheon of public-relations disasters.
Politico reports that communications firms around the country are now using the Obamacare rollout as a textbook case of how not to handle such a large PR disaster. For example, H + A International, a Chicago-based communications firm, sent its customers a 15-point analysis of the administration’s handling of the rollout; Boston-based CHT group released a guide titled “Obamacare and Health Insurance Exchanges: A PR Makeover,” critiquing the administration’s crisis management.
“This will be taught in a lot of business and marketing courses, and probably just as importantly in a lot of technology courses on how do you launch a new product,” Marlin Collingwood, CHT’s president, predicted to Politico. “You certainly don’t do it like this.”
Interviews with PR and messaging consultants turned up a common critique: The administration failed to quickly own up to the problems that the website was having. Instead, the administration insisted the problems were due to overwhelming demand. The White House didn’t start adjusting its messaging until two weeks had passed and Obama didn’t give his Rose Garden speech on the law until three weeks after the debacle had begun.
Obama also did himself no favors when he promised Americans they could keep their health insurance if they liked it; he did not apologize to the millions of Americans that have lost insurance until November 7.