Monday, February 02, 2009

When Does "The President as Rock Star" Start to Work Against the Goal?

I watch the Obama camp daily with fascination. As a communications professional, there are lots of things to learn from their example. I have never been aware of a communications team that was so effective and am certain that the instinct and guidance comes from the top. The President has amazing communications skills.

I do worry, however, about two things:

1. The longer the Presidential team is in office, the more isolated/insulated they will get. Will this influence the quality of their instincts?
2. They are very active communicators. To all appearances their approach is be open, transparent, and proactive. But, having seen what happens to companies when they communication TOO much, the question is: should the President hang back for awhile now?

There are certainly no rules about this. And it's clear that the President is trying to keep the electorate informed to allay concerns, build confidence (there's nothing so scary as no information), and educate the entire nation about the new realities we all face. And of course, he is politicking -- trying to get his measures through -- working to use the persuasiveness of the electorate to sway disagreeing politicians.

But at what point does the "President as Rock Star" work against the goal? By that I mean either: when do expectations get so spun up so high that there is no result other than disappointment; and/or when do listeners become innoculated to the message?

Is there a way to keep the lines of communications open without proactively appearing in the press all the time? In this day and age, there must be.

I hope the team is thinking about this. What are your thoughts?

1 Comments:

Anonymous George Anders said...

Very interesting topic. David Cay Johnston of the NY Times converges on this issue from a totally different starting point in this post:

http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/whos_undercutting_obama.php

His issue is that the lower-level press folks in the White House Press Office seem frozen. Maybe they're just settling in. But there could also be an issue of defining the staff's role when the Commander in Chief is so visible. If the staff can't do anything except stall for time to see what the boss wants, that's ultimately bound to be a problem.

4:19 PM  

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