Brazil-U.S. trip part of larger PR strategy


Dilma and Obama 2011

Warming up for a summit of hemispheric leaders in Colombia later this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today wraps up a brief visit to the United States, where she met President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Despite the high-profile dance card, Reuters quoted some Brazilian officials as complaining that their president didn't get quite the reception she and her country deserves.  "There's a feeling that most people in Washington don't appreciate what's happening in Brazil," the news agency reported one official close to Rousseff as saying. "It didn't have to be a state visit, but Obama could have taken her to dinner, or to the Kennedy Center."

Maybe one reason for the discontent is that Brazil has been working the public relations angle hard in Washington. FARA public relations and lobbying records also show Brazil's long-term approach to generating positive press in the U.S. The current public relations contract between the Social Communication Office of the President of Brazil and Fleishman-Hillard began in 2009, two years before Rousseff was elected president.

The most recent lobbying reports reveal that Brazil spent $1.4 million in the latter half of 2011. , which catalogs historic lobbying and public relations data, displays more than 200 meetings, and outreach activates on behalf of the president of Brazil.

According to the most recent records, Fleishman-Hillard has touted the growth of the middle class, the expansion of federal education/ research opportunities and child welfare improvements. Fleishman-Hillard uses $149,000 to hire subcontractor, CDN International. CDN creates a strategic approach to press outreach.

On Monday, Rousseff, along with Clinton, attended the  Brazil-U.S.: Partnership for the 21ST Century, hosted by the Brazilian Embassy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Brazil-U.S. Business Council. The two women also had a working lunch. 

News reports quoted her urging more U.S. investment in her country and international monetary policies designed to promote growth in the developing world. 

Obama and Rousseff will be attending the Summit of the Americas beginning April 14. Afterwards, Clinton will visit Brazil. According to AFP, “The United States is courting Brazil in hopes of making it its main economic interlocutor in Latin America. It is particularly interested in oil projects, biofuels and opportunities related to Brazil's hosting the World Cup and Olympic Games.”

The U.S.-Brazilian relationship can be complex. Brazil and the U.S. have increased their trade ties — the U.S. Trade Representatives office estimates the U.S. trade surplus with Brazil to be $11.4 billion in 2010. But there are still international issues that cause tensions, such as when Brazil abstained on the U.N. vote to a crackdown on Syria. 

Photo source:By José Cruz, via Wikimedia Commons