The White House Learns a Lesson the Hard Way

President Obama has recognized that his Administration is not communicating well.  According to him, this inability to communicate effectively with the American people has been one of the main reasons for the Democrats’ most recent setbacks.  Poor communication equals big problems, be it in the political or business arenas.  Does this sound familiar?

The Democrats are still in shock after the loss of the Senate seat in Massachusetts that during almost five decades was a Democrat stalwart, and more specifically a Kennedy seat.  Republican Scott Brown’s surprising victory put an end to the Democrats’ super majority and, more importantly, with Obama’s healthcare reform proposal.  That is, the proposal the President wanted.

The White House stresses that the plan isn’t at fault; the problem is that the American people have not been told clearly what the plan entails.   The Administration is now retooling its communication strategy.  It will now include quicker responses to political attacks, a more stringent control of messages and more public appearances by the President.  The White House has said that its communication team allowed the opposition to take the lead with its message and failed to counterattack effectively.  Some examples of the new strategy include Vice President Biden’s appearance in two network Sunday shows.  After seven months, President Obama held a press conference last week – another example of the new strategy.

The conclusion is clear.  The White House has taken the offensive to be able to ensure the same support it had during the presidential campaign.  Everyone recognizes that the campaign communication strategy was one of the pillars of its successful run for the White House.

Another important part of the new strategy is getting the President out of the White House, to enable him to be seen in other scenarios where he is not surrounded by “Washington suits.”  If he is going to speak about the environment, he’ll go to a national park.  If he’s going to announce an initiative about the automobile industry, he’ll do so at a car assembly line in Detroit – the perfect photo op.

You can never let your guard down when it comes to communicating.  You must be proactive and sell your message constantly.  You must define your message and not let others do it for you.  If you do so, you’ll pay a very heavy price.  The White House has understood this all too well.

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