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Watching Obama

March 21, 2009

The unprecedented appearance of a sitting President on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno represents a real change in how government in this country “markets” itself. I was 90% impressed and 10% worried.

The 90% comes from the fact that this administration finally realizes that society has changed and the way we communicate has changed along with it. We are not a nation that only reads The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We are a nation that consumes its news from the Internet and TV. We are a nation that considers “The Daily Show” a credible source (and it is – Cramer v Stewart will likely turn out to be a watershed moment in the Great Recession). Our President and his team realizes that you don’t just visit Leno when you are campaigning, you visit him when you need to communicate to the masses. (Or, perhaps they realize that you never stop campaigning; you are just campaigning for something different once in office).

The President did an excellent job of appearing smart, confident, funny and “Presidential” and still finding a way to connect with the audience. He gives Jay Leno a shake/buddy hug when he comes on stage and that fundamentally shifts how we perceive our leader. President Obama is a man, not a figurehead. He is really one of us. I wanted to listen and believe and be inspired, just as I did throughout the campaign.

My little worries, the 10%, come from the fact that as a nation we don’t all balance our media diet. Too many people rely on only Jon Stewart and Facebook for their information. Our children don’t all realize that you need to drink deeply from the well of information in order to get the full picture. I want our President on late night TV and on Sesame Street. I also want my kid to read The New York Times.

The burden rests on all of us to be smart marketing consumers just as the burden rests on the President to reach out to us through every relevant channel.

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