Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

FitzGerald, Suzanne Sparks


Presidents--United States--Messages


Public Relations and Advertising


This is a study of the impact of presidential messages and style upon the American public following the annual State of the Union address. This researcher focused on two similar presidents, Ronald Reagan and William J. Clinton. The State of the Union addresses used were for the years 1982 and 1994, respectively. The impact was measured by the poll results taken before and after each State of the Union speech.

A content analysis of each address was done to determine the major themes and messages and to determine which of those messages resulted in increased poll numbers.

Additionally, this researcher cited sources which revealed that Reagan did not, in fact, have the high approval ratings of the American public as claimed by the media.

Reagan's three sub-systems of discourse are evaluated in the context of the 1982 State of the Union address. Clinton's rhetoric is also evaluated and found to be similar to Reagan's but with higher polling results.