Obama's Media Blitz Aims to Boost Health Plan; Appearances to Dominate Sunday TV

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Obama's Media Blitz Aims to Boost Health Plan; Appearances to Dominate Sunday TV


Byline: Matthew Mosk, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's the bully pulpit on steroids.

President Obama has embarked on an unparalleled public relations blitz designed to both sell his health care plan to the American public and put pressure on Congress to pass it.

The administration is working to beam the president and his health care message into the homes and consciousness of American voters so often that neither the public nor its representatives in Congress could possibly miss it. On Sunday alone, Mr. Obama will appear on five separate news talk shows, after a week spent visiting with 60 Minutes, "Good Morning America," CNBC, Bloomberg News, and even sports cable giant ESPN.

On Monday, he'll be back on the airwaves for a chat with David Letterman - the first time a sitting president has done a guest turn with the late-night talk-show host.

The Obama Offensive employs television, foremost, but will attempt to reach out through other media as well.

The president has designed a campaign-style stump speech, which even includes a reprise of the Fired Up! rallying cry Mr. Obama began using in advance of the Iowa caucuses. That battle cry, revived at a rousing Thursday morning rally on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, provided enough footage to fill Internet news sites and radio and television broadcasts for one afternoon.

Thursday's speech was being streamed live through what the White House called an innovative Facebook application that will allow students nationwide to both watch the event and discuss it with others as it is happening.

Eric Yaverbaum, the New York public relations expert who wrote the book PR for Dummies, said when it comes to saturating the market, the president's effort is as good as it gets.

This might have seemed like overkill in past administrations, Mr. Yaverbaum said, but times have changed - Mr. Obama's message is in constant competition with the talking heads on 24-hour television news networks and with the bloggers on the Internet.

As a lifetime PR practitioner I say, 'Talk as much as you can. Don't leave it to any of the pundits, from the right or left. Say it yourself,'" Mr. Yaverbaum said. He's doing exactly what he did during the campaign. He's taking his message to the people.

The strategy is not without its risks, however. Especially with the Sunday talk shows, the president is quintupling the risk he will face an unexpected question from one of his hosts. It was a lesson he learned the hard way during a press conference in July. …

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