On my way to work today I read an article about the West Wing Week video series which I had forgotten about until now. The article is focused on Arun Chaudhary who is the White House videographer in charge of capturing the activity of the President every week. He is the first person to hold this job. There are segments that are fun, some serious and some very stately. The aim is to document the presidency for historical purposes and no doubt they will be extremely valuable 25 years from now.
The video is approved by the White House Comms Shop (that is what they call it) before it goes live. Essentially it is what we in the comms business call “owned media.” The White House is the content provider and is sending the message of an active, friendly, presidential occupant of Pennsylvania Avenue.
What interested me after watching this week’s video was how positive the message was compared to what I tend to read in the press, online and on cable news. Most of the latter is neutral to negative. The video does a fine job of changing perception, interesting to watch (speechwriter working on board Air Force One, Michelle Obama serving food to military in Germany, Obama and his wife dancing with children in India who pull them in) and a reminder of the stateliness of the office. I get the point that it is put out by the White House but it is more reassuring than what the media delivers to us every day. In fact, it was a relief because the news can be downright depressing.
In an article I wrote on Reputation Warfare appearing in December’s Harvard Business Review, I mention the saliency of video as a way to communicate directly with stakeholders in defending and safeguarding reputation. The best reputation antagonists use video strategically, so why not the President?
Interestingly, in the article and the short video with Arun and the writer, they mention that there is tremendous interest in the West Wing Week video internally. Always a side-benefit that companies should seriously consider…..