LEADER: Behind the scenes at the Obama show

The Barack Obama show has rolled into the global consciousness, offering what suddenly looks like an irresistible blend of hope and confidence to an American public jaded by war and terrorism.

Claire Murphy, deputy editor, <em>PRWeek</em>
Claire Murphy, deputy editor, PRWeek

Spare a thought for UK lobbyist Steve Morgan, who flew over to handle the international press for the Clinton campaign. In the wake of Obama's Iowa triumph, he was faced with the kind of breathless media coverage that hailed Obama as the new Bobby Kennedy. It is still a long way to the White House, as Clinton's New Hampshire victory proved. But the race looks set to be fascinating.

The Obama story also provided a good example of how the British media's move towards a multi-platform structure is playing out. The Guardian has set up a film unit that is pumping out short videos from the Primaries (www.guardian.co.uk/news/video/2008/jan/08/obama).

The paper's US correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg fronts one film, reporting on the Obama team's increasingly controlled grip on media management. She doorsteps volunteers, collars Obama's chief strategist and gets into a heated exchange with press officers trying to stop her interviewing voters at a rally.

It is nothing new to anyone who has seen a Nick Broomfield documentary or a Michael Moore film, but it does give pointers to the way of the future as print journalists are handed microphones and told to fill website bandwidth.

It isn't just that PROs are now dealing with far more broadcast journalists - although that brings its own logistical issues.

The point is that, as with the Goldenberg film, print journalists are more likely to simply film their own normal reporting process, rather than set out to produce a slick broadcast package. This means that PROs' media relations strategy will increasingly - and literally - come under the spotlight.

Email: claire.murphy@haymarket.com

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