The most high profile and important Communications job in the world is White House Press Secretary. It’s a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week position where the Secretary has to deliver on all the press needs of the U.S. President and handle the relationship with the media.
Last month, in a press Q&A, a reporter from Newsmax tried to trick White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki with a loaded question.
It didn’t work. Jennifer Rene Psaki has been to the rodeo before.
In a reply-challenge to the question, she smoothly turned the tables. Soon it was the female reporter who had the news cameras turned back on her and had to answer-explain. The full exchange lasted less than two minutes, and perfectly displayed Psaki’s cool, her top knotch press skills, as well as communications talent. Not only has Jen Psaki been to the rodeo before…she’s had plenty of practice.
The Professional: Before Jennifer Psaki became White House Press Secretary, she was the White House Communications Director for Barack Obama. Before that she was the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, and before then she was the Deputy White House Communications Director. These are all big-time Communications roles, and the kind of A+ resume/work history which would make her candidate number 1 for the highest level communications position at any global company, or partner/senior VP at a public relations firm – a role she has also had.* [*Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Global Strategy Group]
Facts: Jennifer Psaki is 42 years old. She started her career way back in 2001, working on the re-election campaign of Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and Governor Tom Vilsack. This means she has been in the communications mix of high stakes U.S. politics for half her life! At a time when most people of 21 years old are just of legal age to drink, she was (already) trading back-and-forth with skilled, savvy reporters, and well on her way to being a heavyweight communicator.
There is no special family connection or secret to Jennifer Psaki’s success. In fact, there are no “secrets” at all. Her Wikipedia biography is short. As in, very short – less than one page long. Two other facts to know? Married. Two kids.
30 people work in the office of the White House Press Secretary. Their number one task covers collecting information on events and activity from all U.S. Departments & Agencies, https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies including Intelligence & Defence, and delivering the Administration’s position to the media in…A) Daily briefings. B) Press conferences. C) “Gaggles.*” When the White House Press Secretary speaks, they are speaking on behalf of the President and America. (*On-the-record briefings that are not filmed on video)
Smooth Operator: Psaki’s style with the press has extended over time, but remains pretty much the same. She’s very smart, very well prepared, to-the-point, and does get in the way of the message. It is a night/day difference to the snappy, in-your-face, inaccurate https://news.yahoo.com/kayleigh-mcenany-claimed-she-never-194649544.html approach of of Kayleigh McEnany, who was the last White House Press Secretary for Donald Trump, and the antics of previous Secretary Sean Spicer. So far, there have been no clumsy missteps, no quotes to “take out of context” and no ugly leaks for the media to grab on to. 150*+ days into the Biden/Harris administration, order has been restored to the White House Communications game. The media messaging is on script, her team is working in synch and headline news discipline is back in town. (*Jan 20, 2021. Source: U.S. Govt)
Jennifer Psaki’s personal style is also in check and low key; simple grooming, a slight splash of makeup, toned down wardrobe, no fancy French & Italian labels. The whole mix of attention to detail, firm-to-friendly media manner, organization and low profile are right in tune with her boss, U.S. President Joe Biden, and explain why she has risen up the ladder into increasingly important and senior Communications roles.
Jennifer Paski is White House Press Secretary number 34.* George E. Akerson was number one in 1929. The salary is $183,000** USD per year. Level 1 media & communications experience is a must, along with a stable, steady personality. A spotless National Security background check is essential. There are no real “days off,” and no online application for the postion. The only way for an individual to get the job is to be personally selected by the President, AKA Commander in Chief. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/11/29/joe-biden-names-white-house-communications-team-led-jen-psaki/ (*Source: U.S. Govt. ** Business Insider)
All the signs are Jennifer Rene Psaki has been a star choice. She is a cool customer who gets the job done right. She’s using her sharp PR & media skills with masterful expertise, and not looking to be the news…or make enemies with the press. At the same time, she is bringing clever plus class back to the role, while adding major points to her reputation as an MVP communicator.
Grade: The face and voice of USA official.
Connect with Jen Psaki on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jen-psaki-07954923.
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Photo Credits: Jennifer Psaki, The White House. Photographers, SGAA. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Far News. U.S. State Department Seal, Data Center Dynamics. Jennifer Psaki, The White House. Photographers, Brian Gratwicke. Photographers, Yahoo CC.