ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
January 27, 2009

Lessons From the First Fully Wired President


With the inauguration of President Obama this past week, it’s apparent that the use of e-mails, text messaging, video and social media networking has forever changed the history of political campaigning. Just think — never before have we seen a presidential campaign utilize new media the way the Obama camp did with such unprecedented ‘participation’ results. From the moment Barack Obama decided to seek the Democratic Party nomination, the in-boxes on both my cell phone and email overflowed with updates on every potential data point known to man — from the location of the future president, the speeches he was to deliver that day, updates on his evolving policy positions and certainly most importantly, on what I could do to help him win the presidency.

Americans, no matter their political party affiliation yearned for “Change.” And not only did the Obama campaign deliver the message, they achieved the ultimate goal of engaging and exciting the public for the most memorable presidential election in history. Now that we are on the other side of this historic election, communications and public relations people have an unprecedented opportunity to learn from this campaign’s success. Regardless of your political leaning, you should agree that the Obama camp has provided a template for the practice of communications in the new media reality in which we all live today. We’ll talk about many of these lessons in my presentation later this week, but to introduce one now — how about this potential lesson  — “when a powerful message is combined with the steady use of new media campaigning, a successful campaign is bound to emerge.”

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By Torod Neptune, senior vice president and leader, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide’s Global Public Affairs Practice, is general manager of its Washington, D.C. office. A communications strategist and business adviser with over 17 years of experience, Torod is highly regarded for directing some of the most complex public affairs, public policy, regulatory and crisis communications campaigns for a range of industries, NGOs, issue coalitions and foreign governments. His clients have included the United Nations Development Program, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade & Economic Cooperation, GlaxoSmithKline, MasterCard Worldwide, LG.Philips, Nike and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA.

Join Neptune for his telelseminar From the Ballot Box to the Inbox: How Social Media Won the White House on Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 3 p.m. EST!

  • JCF

    A word of caution, here. There’s been a bit of negativity from the White House press corps and other media that report on White House happenings that Obama’s press staff isn’t as open as they expected.

    It may be a learning curve, but the daily press briefings are not posted to whitehouse.gov yet. Only sanitized summaries from Robert Gibbs’ briefings are posted – they’re basically talking points.

    Let’s hope the press secretary and his staff get up to speed and begin posting all press briefings so the Obama administration can live up to its refreshing goal to be transparent and open.