The West Wing – Communications and Leadership

By James Knight.

When Martin Sheen played fictional US President Jed Bartlet, he showed leadership and expertise communication.

Back in the times of the West Wing we had meetings at my magazines over dinner, we would discuss Press and PR issues of the day, it was top viewing and we discussed how President Bartlet would run the country, how a big percentage of the public wanted him. The meetings took place over dinner in the States.

The West Wing was a programme won so many awards with an excellent cast. You received an in-sight into the Press Room of the White House and the workings of the administration. Today it is even watched by politicians and PR people as a learning exercise.

The series was created by Aaron Sorkin, a TV producer with great vision, it made household names out of many of the cast, from John Spencer, Allison Janney has the legendary CJ, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford and Stockard Channing (of Grease fame).

The cast portrayed the many positions in the White House daily work, Sheen has often been described as a cross between John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The speech writers and press team were tuned like an orchestra with President Bartlet as the conductor with skills and leadership he was a master in messaging with his team in Press approach. Sorkin said it described the human side of politics.

The show end in 2006 after seven years and 100 awards, including 27 Primetime Emmys.

The West Wing showed the power of PR right or wrong. Watch it and you will see how a President leads – messages are so important for the leader to keep credibility.

Professor James Knight is an international businessman, public relations practitioners and academic. He was Fellow of Bournemouth University Public Relations School, guest speaker at Judge Cambridge, Surrey, Bath and Reading, International Mentor for Oxford Brookes on Hospitality. He is a Fellow of CIPR and the Society of Public Relations of America, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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