“Politics is three things: Getting people to know you, to like you, and to trust you,” said Mike Kennerknecht, a PR manager at Tipping Point Public Relations in Rochester, NY. “As a result, communications skills for a candidate and an elected official are paramount.”
Although there isn’t a definitive list that ranks presidents by popularity, six names regularly appeared in recent polls on the topic: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.
The 20th century presidents on the list—Reagan, Clinton, Kennedy, and Roosevelt—are known for their skillful communications, while Lincoln is considered a persuasive and emotive orator.
Media trainer Brad Phillips said it’s probably no coincidence that presidents listed as the most popular are regarded as terrific communicators.
“Lyndon Johnson, for example, influenced more domestic legislation—such as Medicare and civil rights—than most other presidents in the modern era,” explained Phillips, “but his blunt communication style didn’t play well with the American public, and he’s nowhere to be found on the ‘most popular’ lists.”