White House Turns State Of The Union Into A Social Affair

State of the Union

The White House is pulling out all the stops in its effort to get Tuesday’s State of the Union into the social ecosphere.

There’s the Instagram account, which last week provided some photographic evidence that President Obama is, indeed, working on a speech.

Of course, @WhiteHouse was good for the same, tweeting out this picture of Obama conferring with his head speechwriter in the Oval Office on Monday evening.

There was even a YouTube trailer of sorts, asking people to “be a part of the State of the Union” by featuring all of the various social aspects and “enhanced” interactive features available for those second-screening (or maybe third-screening, just to keep up) at home.

All of this seems to be an evolution in the long history of marketing the Presidency, and the State of the Union in particular.

For its part, the White House contends its just offering more opportunities to help the American people process the president’s message and get more politically active. But for others, the multiplicity of social media outlets offers an unprecedented chance for the administration to drive the narrative, perhaps veering into propaganda territory.

From the Washington Post:

“Technology has caught up with the ambition of this White House and every one before it to own their own story,” says Terence Smith, a journalist formerly with PBS, CBS and the New York Times. “It’s a frontal appeal to the audience. They’re not just going over the heads of the media. They’re going over the heads of Congress, too. They now have the [technological] means” to control the focus and the message.

And over at Bloomberg News, the “fading” relevance of television to the State of the Union is cited as one reason why a focus on social media engagement is so important.

But that isn’t to say nobody watches: “Though the 33.5 million viewers Obama drew last year is half the number Bill Clinton had 20 years earlier, the address remains a major TV event, topping both the Emmy Awards and World Series in viewership.”

Such a large audience means more people tuned in to a “second screen,” posting all sorts of commentary to all sorts of social media.

Indeed, the White House’s acting director of digital strategy, Nathaniel Lubin, told Bloomberg that the speech “is the biggest engagement of the year” for them.

So get those #SOTU hashtags all warmed up and ready to go. You can also check out the White House’s State of the Union social media hub and catch the speech at 9 pm EST Tuesday.

[image: Pete Souza/The White House]


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