Monday, 17 December 2007

No Great Loss

One of the most trenchant, not to say well-founded criticisms of the Bush Administration in the US is that their PR was really, really terrible.

It's notorious that they didn't make use of the blogosphere, and still don't. There are hundreds of reports every week, facts favourable to Bush that, with just a little more publicity to them, would be amazingly helpful.

Instead, most of the "good news" gets buried, most of the "bad news" is unchallenged, even by those who can prove it's false, and are hurt most by it.

Now we might have a clue why this is so. An interview with Dan Bartlett, former Communications Director at the White House.
How much attention did you pay to the programs on cable?

I never worried about a certain cable show. What I was looking for were trends that were shaping the narrative and the conventional wisdom and whether we had to be in front of or behind those things.

What about the blogs?

We had to set up a whole new apparatus to deal with the challenges they pose. Are they real journalists? The Washington Post, for example, has journalists who are now bloggers. Do you treat them as bloggers? Do they get credentials?

Let’s think of it as a practical matter. If one of those journalists-turned-bloggers, Chris Cillizza, e-mails you to say he needs an interview, and at the same time one of the Post’s print reporters—say, Dan Balz—e-mails you and says he needs an interview, and you can do only one . . .


Because the print edition of the Post has more of an impact?

Because Balz is on multiple platforms. He’s booked more easily on television. He’s read by more people. He influences people a bit more. Now, the question might not be as much Chris versus Dan as maybe, “Is it Dan Balz or one of the guys at [the conservative blog] Power Line?”

Yeah, or what if [conservative blogger] Hugh Hewitt called?

That’s when you start going, “Hmm . . .” Because they do reach people who are influential.

Well, they reach the president’s base.

That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
Sure they do, Dan.

If you're so out of touch as to believe that, no wonder you're losing your base, and everything else. Bouquets for setting up a "whole new apparatus", except the apparatus doesn't appear to have done anything. If you think that the only use of the blogosphere is to feed trusted sources the "official party line", then no wonder you're the EX-Communications Director. If you think that the popular bloggers could ever get away with being trained parrots and performing seals, if you haven't been aware of their strident criticism of the incompetence in White House communications, then you're one of the best assets the DNC ever had. Jeez!

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

It will be too banal to argue that MSM in general are not geared for good news of any kind, but yes - Bush's administration does a very poor job in PR.