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The Anatomy of Strategic Communications in the Modern Mexican Presidency Open Access

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Despite its obvious relevance, surprisingly little is known from a scholarly perspective about Mexican presidential communication, the way it functions, and the way it is thought about by its own practitioners. Drawing on over 30 interviews with senior officials (and advisors) from the last five presidential administrations, this thesis discusses the responsibilities, priorities, daily activities, and decision-making of the communications offices, the analysis offer an in-depth look into Mexican presidential communication.The sheer complexity and fast-pace of the processes described in the thesis serves to illustrate that gone are the days when the presidency had the last word (and often, also the first and only word) in public affairs. While the presidency still holds (and might continue to hold) an institutional advantage over any other political organizations in terms of communication, it has increasingly approached communications as a strategic and multidimensional endeavor. One dimension of strategy deals with which issues to push on (or attempt to pull from) the national agenda and which issues to pull close to or distance from. Another dimension deals with how to best approach or frame each issue in terms of communication. But, as the thesis will argue, it is hard to separate one dimension from the other--sometimes even in conceptual terms. Thus, an effective strategic presidency has to consider the effect of its communicative actions on the debate about specific issues and on the overall national conversation, as well as the implications for the popularity and influence of the presidency in an ever changing public sphere. Moreover, the way communications officials work clearly shows that, rather than secretive craftsmen, they are highly skilled and professionalized managers that lead the most complex communications apparatus in the country. As top managers and leaders, they oversee multifaceted processes and multidisciplinary interactions that, with their strategic guidance and inputs, ultimately produce the visible parts of the president's message. Thus, while the individual skill and talent of the officials is important, the architecture of the processes that govern the presidential communications apparatus--the anatomy of strategic communications--is even more important.

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