Saturday Night Live Brands The Government

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  David B. Grinberg 7 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #176886

    Here is SNL’s bit on sequestration that aired last night.

    What can we do to improve our collective image?

  • #176910

    David B. Grinberg

    Good question, Dannielle.

    Point out and reiterate all the beneficial services provided by gov which the public needs and appreciates. Agencies, labor unions and other orgs which support gov (and gov employees) need to get this message out like a broken record.

    Perhaps the effects of the sequester will cause the country to wake up and smell the coffee, so to speak. Let’s hope so, as gov at all levels deserve more recognition and respect for a change. Many govies are “mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore!”

    By the way, as you know, SNL has mocked both the GOP and Dems for decades now — during good and bad times — nothing new here in that regard.


  • #176908

    Well we are in a PR crisis and the weapon is humor. Can you combat humor with logic?

    The other thing to remember is that brands operate on a lag so the image people have today reflects the actions of yesterday. Whatever we do now will likely not matter for at least a few years.

  • #176906

    Terrence Hill

    Thanks for sharing this clip. It’s a shame that we had to resort to this drastic budgetary tactic, but unfortunately we really don’t have many options for getting some control over our debt. I hope that all Federal employees use this opportunity to help their leadership to start implementing real cost savings. Also, this is an opportunity to become more creative in operating more efficiently.

  • #176904

    David B. Grinberg

    Interesting points, Dannielle. So what’s the answer to your question:

    “What can we do to improve our collective image?”

    What ideas would you consider to be helpful and effective to address this “PR crisis”?

    Is your answer that “we” simply do nothing and take it on the chin?

    Thanks for elaborating.


  • #176902


    Sorry, but many don’t think the cuts are drastic. The continued exaggeration is nauseating! More needs to be done by both parties. This is long overdue and not having a budget for over four years when some agencies prepare at least 1 or 2 each year (one with increases and one with decreases) is unacceptable. This is not the fault of most hard working agency personnel, it is the fault of leadership of this administration, and their games of politiciziing everything. Previous presidents compromised and unfortunately it’s going to get worse before it gets any better with more “fiscal crisis” to come.

  • #176900

    Step 1 – Identify the underlying problems

    1) Political tug of war, scapegoating

    2) Actual inefficiencies – need to modernize and streamline an outdated and overly complicated system

    3) Gap between public and private sector human capital practices (e.g. people who can get fired for very little have trouble understanding how civil servants seem to be protected from the actual marketplace)

    4) Complacency within the federal workforce, or fear and lack of awareness as to what to do

    Step 2 – Identify the communication problems

    1) The level of the brand (how the public perceives us) is “all civil servants” but there is no entity representing all civil servants as far as image consulting or representation

    2) Not clear where #1 would be housed or how it would be funded – logistical issue

    3) Differing opinions about Step 1 – how would you formulate an inclusive strategy that speaks to the issues, with a lot of disagreement about the issues?

    4) Fragmentation of leadership – dispersion among different agencies

    5) Who would vet the content of what is said – it would have policy repercussions

    Step 3 – Possible solutions

    1) Each person can serve as a “brand ambassador” on their own – nothing prevents you or anyone from demonstrating that civil servants are vitally necessary, hardworking and dedicated to the mission simply by talking about what they do and why it matters. (You would be amazed at how little people know.)

    2) Like Terry said, as much as you can, use this opportunity to help your Agency leadership implement cost savings – and then work within the Agency to share those stories more broadly.

    3) Where possible, join interagency task forces to brainstorm solutions to issues like this.

  • #176898

    Michael Stevens

    Sounds like a YGL mission… getting out there and putting a TRUE face to government workers. Join us!

  • #176896

    Tom Choman

    Agreed. Nothing new with this SNL spot. I think it is an excelent parody on the Administration’s PR strategy. Use all of us as props for their worst case scenario painting. Never mind about communicating directly and humanly about the pain both financial and mental that we will have to go through during this manufactured crisis. What has brought us to this point: failure of leadership of both parties and a failure at good commuications.

  • #176894

    Michael Stevens

    What do you guys think about Federal agencies participating in more reality shows to improve image? Something like Undercover Boss would do well.

  • #176892

    I keep waiting for the sitcom. Here’s the pitch:

    Name of show – “Govies”

    Brief description – “The Office” except in government

    Seriously what is this show – A wryly sarcastic parody of a reality show about the “nothing” of ordinary day-to-day life in the government.

    Cast – New recruit + jaded veteran + bad boss + clueless leader + corporate rebel (against a backdrop of Washington bureaucracy, political maneuvering, and the usual cast of colorful characters)

    Message – Govies are good people working in challenging circumstances – we can do better than this.

  • #176890

    David B. Grinberg


  • #176888

    David B. Grinberg

    Have we not already had such shows air, for example:

    • The West Wing
    • Parks and Recreation
    • Homeland (Showtime)
    • Numerous crime and law/order TV programs which showcase the legal system and law enforcement at all levels of government.

    The only reality show which I perceive as being somewhat successful would feature feds saving lives and protecting citizens in emergency situations both here and overseas, fighting terrorism and cyber crime, making new scientific discoveries — ie. FEMA, NASA, Dept. of Defense, CIA, FBI, Coast Guard, State Dept. etc.

    The last thing we need is a lame reality show that reinforces the public image of the socalled “Dilbert-ization” (cartoon) of gov.

    Humor is humor. Logic is logic. However, facts always win out in the end, at least among reasonable and rational people.

    As John Adams — the first U.S. Vice President and the second President of America — famously stated:

    Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

    Lastly, while textbooks may say it takes “three years” in theory to change public perception via branding, that sounds like too long of a time in practicality.

    Thanks for considering these points.

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