The lead article in the January Government Executive magazinetackles recent attempts by non-profit associations and unions to create more favorable view of federal employees. For example, with trust in government at a low, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) is running a campaign, called They Work for U.S. Through real-people-type testimonials, representing citizens, it shows Americans how much they depend on government for health, safety, protection, and overall well-being.
In the article, compensation expert Howard Rishercomments that much more is needed to turn the federal brand around: “The Marines understand branding. It’s more than PR – and it’s certainly not defensive. The question is, why would someone find a career with [an agency] an exciting prospect? Each federal agency needs to develop a ‘rocket to the moon’ answer.” Of course, agency’s that don’t have NASA’s mammoth achievement wonder if they have such an answer.
My experience has been that they do. Our clients government agencies respond well to Mr. Risher’s approach, i.e. finding what ad man Leo Burnett called inherent drama: discovering what most moves or excites your audience about what you’re selling. Burnett’s Chicago agency (where I worked in the 1970s) translated those emotional attributes into compelling archetypal images like the Jolly Green Giant, who expresses the bounty of the earth. The CNBC Titan Series, aired this past summer. honors Burnett along with leaders like Steve Jobs and Jack Welch. The program is available for instant download on Amazon.