Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting the message out

In yesterday’s NYT Magazine Virigina Hefferman described Obama’s administration as the “YouTube Presidency”: Why? His administration is at least (or maybe even more) focused on communicating its goals and controlling its image by bypassing wherever possible the traditional political journalists. The administration is attempting to communicate as much as possible directly to the public. It distributes vehemently Obama’s own produced video footage on YouTube, the government websites, embedded in the ongoing campaign emails, etc. It focuses more on this strategic shift to “non-traditional” communication vehicles than on influencing the normally so influential White House Press Corps. 

It seems to me that what the White House Press Corps is for Obama is for most brands nowadays the TV networks and cable stations. Clearly one needs to address the demands of great TV spots but equal (or maybe even more) weight has to be put against the creation and distribution of visual content in any other accessible (and possibly free) medium. Not too many people might see Obama’s press conference on CNN, or C-Span but easily a few million people might watch a well shot and designed Obama clip on YouTube and other websites. 

It is less about necessarily trying to control the brand message outside of the journalistic realm but to utilize every “free” communication channel to populate it with well created and relevant material. Brands can learn a lot from Obama’s ongoing campaign and attempt to have a more direct and unfiltered access to the public. His administration uses usually four major communication channels:

  • Its own Government and campaign websites
  •  A well managed and constantly updated presence on social networking sites
  • Regular outbound messages via eMail, textmessage, etc to the millions in Obama’s campaign database
  • The distribution of well produced videos on YouTube and other well visited video sites. 

This focus on unfiltered and better controlled communication definitely helps Obama. And it can help any brand. Visual brand messages will less and less be only contained to the TV medium; it will proliferate to any visual outlet. Brands might spend more money on the production of these material but they will save on the costs for placement on traditional media. 


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