You’ve already heard that President Barack Obama stopped by the garage of comic Marc Maron to record an episode of his popular podcast WTF last week.
The biggest related headlines so far concern Obama’s use of the “N-word,” with Politico providing a convenient, awkwardly edited clip:
Of course this was an important topic of conversation…as was the matter of last week’s horrific shootings in Charleston.
But for the purposes of this blog, we were more interested in the brief moment that the President spent discussing his PR strategy.
Essentially, the President’s appearance on “WTF” is a natural extension of his administration’s comms strategy–specifically, its plans to reach diverse, divergent audiences by hitting new media outlets like Vox, VICE and, of course, “Between Two Ferns.“
Obama talked about the awkwardness of his appearance on such a podcast:
“I’m a big fan…if I thought to myself that when I was in college that I’d be in a garage a couple of miles away from where I was living doing an interview with a comedian, I think that’s a pretty hard scenario…nobody could imagine.”
So why did he go on the show? Obama continues around the 26 minute mark:
“Increasingly, I’ve spent my time thinking about, how do I try to break out of these old patterns that our politics has fallen into…which is part of the reason why I’m here.
I’ve had conversations with my communications team…how do we talk to folks who aren’t already so dug in to a particular way of thinking about politics? That we can create more space for people to have a normal, ordinary conversation? And one in which the lines aren’t clearly drawn in black and white, and it’s not this battle in a steel cage, one side with another?”
Obama then goes on to discuss the limits of his own power.
But this exchange was key to us because it speaks to the same strategy that led the President to go on Jimmy Fallon and The View and to talk healthcare with Zach Galifianakis. This is an attempt to communicate with the public via unique and unexpected channels in the interest of reaching audience members who may be more receptive to messages in this manner via this medium.
In other words, the President described the key challenges faced every day by professionals working in the public relations industry, whether their jobs happen to touch on politics or not.
*Pic via The White House