Theodore Roosevelt’s Lasting Legacy on PR in The White House

“No American President has played a larger role in institutionalizing public relations in the White House than Theodore Roosevelt” -Rodger Streitmatter, American Journalism

Although Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, was thought of for decades after his death as nothing more than a man with impressive rhetoric and an exuberant personality, his reputation eventually changed. Historians began to credit him for revolutionizing the presidency by attempting to meet the needs of the nation by discerning public interest and directly engaging the community while permanently placing the president at center stage.

Roosevelt made a significant change by being the first president to take advantage of the public relations techniques of news conferences and interviews, multimedia campaigns, recorded audio and new radio technology. He also used his public office as a powerful speaking platform in order to endorse himself and sway public opinion in favor of his policies. He forged a path for future presidents to constantly partake in the work of branding, publicity and opinion management—later considered the work of spin. He pioneered methods such as touring the country to promote favored legislation, approaching the Washington press corps, hosting informal press conferences, keeping tabs on photographers, and staging ingenious publicity stunts.

With his uncanny ability to reach the public through speeches, the press, and emerging media while embracing the techniques of craft and spin, Roosevelt is credited and remembered for completely redefining the role of the president within public relations and media communications.

See an example of his rhetoric here: