21st Century State of the Union: How the message war will be won and lost

It’s rare that one person is able to stand behind a podium and have the entire country listen, yet that is what will happen tonight as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address. And while his “communications professionals” are analyzing every word, I’d argue it’s less about what is said during the speech and more about what is done afterwards. This wasn’t always the case.

For decades, President’s solely relied on the words that were read during the State of the Union and possibly a couple interviews to relay to Americans what was planned for the upcoming years of the Administration. With so many avenues to touch voters, the speech is probably the least important part of tonight.

For instance, the Obama Administration already has a story out about it’s social media approach: http://wapo.st/1d63DHJ. Fascinating to see the Administration utilize old school newspaper to promote it’s online approach.

I’m curious to know how the Republicans will respond though. For too long, Republicans have relied on the traditional, behind-the-podium response to the State of the Union. This has left us with memorable, sad moments from the likes of Marco Rubio and Governor Jindal. I couldn’t tell you what they said, but I will never forget the images they created.

How does this apply to your business?

Too many companies have an old school approach to announcements. They tell a reporter early, hoping for a favorable story. They send out a press release and then monitor. The spokesperson may answer some basic questions, but there is very little comprehensive communications strategy. As a company, you must consider all communications channels you have available to push your message and respond to critics.  And do NOT think you can do it on your own. This is probably how Democrats and the Obama Administration will probably win the message war tonight.