The White House's decision to post the daily talking points to its blog might seem artless on the surface. Giving away the communications strategy for a campaign is not normally high on the agenda when working to drive conversations in favor of your positions. But anyone who watches cable news can readily identify the day's message points, as they are repeated over and over. So the White House didn't have much to lose by posting the messages publicly – and it had plenty to gain.
The Obama administration is working hard to achieve a unique legacy that rests on openness and transparency. This is one more step in a series of moves designed to further cement that position. And delivering on a promise, as communicators know, helps develop trust between you and your stakeholders – a key ingredient in motivating audiences to support an entity and whatever its goals are, be it selling healthcare or an electronic device.
In addition, it's one more strategic play in the administration's attempt to leverage the technology that brought Obama to the White House – something the administration has not yet figured out how to do. Traffic to WhiteHouse.gov spiked the month following inauguration, but it has since fallen, though there was another uptick in September, according to Alexa.com. But the blog did make news this week when it used the platform to tackle conservative Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.
Clearly the White House's ability to harness social media tools is still a work in progress, but its attempts have tremendous potential. If, for example, Obama's team can figure out how to motivate those same groups that took him to the Oval Office to repost the talking points on their Facebook profiles or use them in conversation with their neighbors, then it will have built a commanding counterforce to opposing views.
Though government entities have a unique mission and a unique audience to consider, there are some lessons here for corporations. Should you advise clients to post key messages to their blogs? Probably not. But should you advise them to get a client's testimony on the Hill onto YouTube and then deliver it to stakeholders who might further spread that message? Yes.