PR and New Media from the White House

Even the new president is on board, complementing traditional PR tactics with new media efforts. I just love this. Traditionally, the president stands in front of the White House press corps, answering questions. Or at least the reporters call them questions. These are supposed to be questions that they believe will garner up answers about the issues that concern their readers, viewers, and listeners – what the American people should know about how the administration is doing business these days. Let’s face it, sometimes these questions sound so antagonistic, it casts a shadow over the objective reporting. I even have a seasoned journalist friend who constantly shakes her head in amazement when she watches these things, saying stuff like “That was all you could think of to ask?” or “That was a stupid question, we already know how he’s going to answer that.” I guess the president thinks along those same lines because in one of his recent press conference, he took things a step further – he used the Internet, just like he did in his campaign, to engage the people who he needs the most support from – us. An online press conference where “the people” were the media. He took his standard questions from the White House press corps in the East Room, representing the formal and time-honored tradition. But two days later, he’s in the same room, taking questions from you and me. More than 100,000 questions submitted via the Internet and in person had come in less than 48 hours after his “traditional” press conference. Talk about the power to speak directly to whom you want to – unfiltered! With new media as a tool, President Obama “is allowing everyday people to participate in a way that would’ve been impossible in the old media world,” said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network and a veteran of presidential campaigns. In a way, he is reaching out directly to his “customers”. Clearly, you’ve got to mix up the old with the new. But it’s a new world because of technology; you’d better be using it to your advantage.

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