Modern Presidential Communications - Communicating Presidential Rhetorical Vision in a Changing World


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Want to be President of the United States of America? Want to launch a product that puts a "dent in the universe?" These things don't just happen. You will need to be a master of rhetoric and understand how to persuade the masses using proven campaign techniques from both political and commercial marketing campaigns.

This review on modern presidential rhetoric combines ideas used in presidential campaigns from FDR, Reagan, Obama, JFK, and more.

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Modern Presidential Communications - Communicating Presidential Rhetorical Vision in a Changing World

  1. 1.           (Seal  of  the  President  of  the  United  States,  Graphic  Obtained  from  Wikipedia)   Modern   Presidential   Communication   Communicating  Presidential  Rhetorical  Vision  in  a   Changing  World   Rahul  Singh   Modern  United  States  Presidency,  Spring  2013   Ambassador  Paul  Russo,  Former   4/29/2013  
  2. 2. Table  of  Contents   Modern  Presidential  Communication  .............................................................................................................  1   Communicating  Presidential  Rhetorical  Vision  in  a  Changing  World  ..........................................  1   Introduction  ..........................................................................................................................................................................................  1   Hypothetical  Strategic  Design  of  a  Campaign  .........................................................................................................................  3   Create  a  singular  rhetorical  vision  for  the  target  audience  ..............................................................................................  4   Build  a  community  from  and  of  the  target  audience  ...........................................................................................................  6   Listen  to  and  learn  from  the  community  ..................................................................................................................................  8   Create  actionable  content  around  the  singular  rhetorical  vision  ..................................................................................  9   Spread  and  propagate  the  message  .........................................................................................................................................  12   Activate  community  members  to  participants  ...................................................................................................................  13   Measure  to  improve.  Improve  to  succeed.  Repeat.  ...........................................................................................................  14   Change  is  the  only  constant  .........................................................................................................................................................  16       Modern  Presidential  Communication     ii  
  3. 3. Rahul  Singh   Modern  United  States  Presidency,  Spring  2013   Ambassador  Paul  Russo,  Former   4/29/2013   Modern  Presidential  Communication   Communicating  Presidential  Rhetorical  Vision  in  a  Changing  World     Introduction   The  modern  president  must  manage  communications  with  different  groups  of   people  in  different  parties  and  professions,  in  different  cities  and  states,  and  in  different   socio-­‐economic  stations  in  life  using  a  variety  of  tools  and  resources  in  the  new  world  of   media  that  is  fragmented  across  several  different  platforms.  How  does  the  Office  of  the   President  strategically  manage  its  communications  so  that  its  agenda  is  pushed  forward?   How  does  the  President  speak  to  the  People  to  get  them  to  push  their  Representatives  and   Senators  to  back  certain  decisions  that  are  in  line  with  the  White  House's  agenda?  How   does  a  Presidential  candidate  prove  that  he  or  she  can  communicate  with  the  people  well   enough  to  be  President?   Political  scholars,  especially  those  that  study  the  President,  have  drawn  several   theories  about  presidential  communication.  Jeffrey  Tulis  explains  how  the  Presidency  has   ‘transformed’  over  the  years  to  keep  up  with  or  in  sometimes  lead  in  the  modes  of   communication  available  to  them.  From  the  beginning  of  the  American  Republic,  rhetoric   has  been  a  substantial  element  of  politics.  Rhetoric  has  been  part  of  politics  from  the   Modern  Presidential  Communication     1  
  4. 4.   beginning  of  democratic  rule,  and  any  time  in  history  where  a  leader  convinces  followers  to   motivate  them  to  take  action.  The  leader  of  a  nation  leads  through  persuasion  to  influence   those  that  make  decisions  and  take  actions.  They  gather  followers  with  influence,  from  the   beginning  of  the  campaign  to  run  for  office  to  the  day  they  leave  office  and  continue  their   legacy  in  the  public  sphere.     The  President  of  the  United  States  leads  by  first  convincing  the  nation  to  elect  him   or  her,  and  then  later  by  convincing  the  legislators  in  government  to  enact  laws  that  push   the  advertised  agenda.  Many  would  argue  the  role  of  the  Executive  Department  hasn’t   changed,  and  that  only  the  communications  strategies  and  tactics  need  to  change  in  order   for  it  to  fulfill  it’s  duties.  Although  there  are  elements  of  national  leadership  that  can  be   considered  core  elements  of  governance  in  any  nation  and  in  any  type  of  nation,  the  role  of   the  Executive  has  changed  in  America  and  will  continue  to  change  into  the  future  because   of  the  way  that  technology  impacts  people,  their  daily  lives  and  activities,  and  of  course   their  knowledge  of  world  they  live  in.       Modern  media  has  transformed  in  the  last  30  years  with  the  advent  of  the  public   Internet,  the  continued  ubiquity  of  television  and  radio,  and  an  abundance  of  content   creators  and  distributors.  Regardless  of  the  technological  changes,  the  importance  of   proper  rhetoric  in  the  President’s  message  is  as  important  as  the  strategic  design  of  a   communications  plan  and  it’s  tactical  execution.  With  each  technological  advance,  masters   of  messaging,  advertising,  marketing,  communication,  and  public  relations  have  cultivated   general  processes  to  maximize  the  distribution  of  messages.  Distributing  the  message  alone   Modern  Presidential  Communication     2  
  5. 5.   is  not  good  enough.  As  with  any  good  marketing  campaign,  the  result  must  be  an  action  to   eventually  buy  the  product.  A  President’s  wish  to  move  the  country  in  a  particular  way  is   not  too  different  from  a  campaign.    As  with  any  campaign  whether  political,  marketing,  or   governmental,  success  is  measured  in  results:  people  understanding  the  message;  people   spreading  the  message;  and  people  taking  action  because  of  their  understanding  of  the   message.   Hypothetical  Strategic  Design  of  a  Campaign       The  jury  is  still  out  on  what  is  the  best  way  to  run  a  new  media  campaign  as  evidenced   by  thousands  of  blog  posts  about  the  best  ways  to  market  online  that  are  in  constant  flux  as   technologies,  platforms,  and  social  networks  come  and  go.1  As  with  television  and  radio,   most  campaigns  remain  the  same  but  change  due  to  the  cultural  make  up  and  public   consciousness  to  get  people  to  take  action  from  a  message.  An  advertising  campaign  and  a   political  campaign  are  differently  only  in  the  desired  results.  The  approach  and  strategies   are  similar,  and  the  methods  and  tactics  are  almost  identical.  There  are  certain  patterns  in   the  processes  across  media  that  have  been  seen  numerous  times  and  have  been  validated   by  several  practitioners.2   • Create  a  singular  rhetorical  vision  for  the  target  audience.   • Build  a  community  from  and  of  the  target  audience.   • Listen  to  and  learn  from  the  community.                                                                                                                   1  A  search  on  Google  for  “online  marketing  strategies”  results  in  new  articles  every  day,   2  (Singh)  Referencing  presentation  made  by  author  regarding  executing  internet  strategy.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     3  
  6. 6.   • Create  actionable  content  around  the  singular  rhetorical  vision.   • Spread  and  propagate  the  message.   • Activate  community  members  into  participants.   • Measure  to  improve.  Improve  to  succeed.  Repeat.   This  paper  sets  out  to  show  how  certain  presidents,  primarily  Reagan  and  Obama,  have   elements  of  success  in  communicating  presidential  rhetoric.   Create  a  singular  rhetorical  vision  for  the  target  audience   In  his  treatise  On  Rhetoric,  Aristotle  defines  the  three  elements  of  rhetoric  as  ethos,   pathos,  and  logos.3  In  very  general  terms,  ethos  is  the  ability  to  establish  credibility,  pathos   is  the  ability  to  inspire  or  motivate  the  audience  with  their  self-­‐interest,  and  a  logos  is  the   truthfulness  of  the  argument.4  Rhetoric  is  the  art  of  persuasion,  and  President  and  the   Office  of  the  President  must  master  it.  As  a  prerequisite  to  being  President,  the  person  must   get  elected  President.  They  utilize  rhetoric  to  get  to  the  top,  and  must  utilize  it  to  do  their   job.  Jeffrey  Tulis,  The  Rhetorical  Presidency,  argues  that  the  President’s  use  of  rhetoric  has   been  a  part  of  American  governance  since  George  Washington.  He  also  says  that  rhetorical   leadership  is  fundamental  to  political  leadership:                                                                                                                   3  (Insert  reference  to  Rhetoric)     4  (Aristotle)   Modern  Presidential  Communication     4  
  7. 7.   Beneath  the  differing  policies  of  Democrats  and  Republicans  and  varying  abilities  to   secure  partisan  objectives  lies  a  common  understanding  of  the  essence  of  the   modern  presidency  –  rhetorical  leadership.5     Good  rhetoric  leaves  the  audience  persuaded  into  a  different  state  of  mind.  In  order  for  an   audience  to  be  moved,  the  message  itself  must  be  clear.  Some  of  the  most  popular   presidents  have  utilized  a  singular  message  to  move  the  country  to  elect  them  and  later  to   listen  to  them  while  in  government.   Reagan   Ronald  Reagan,  known  widely  as  the  Great  Communicator,  was  deeply  involved  in   the  construction  of  speeches  that  not  only  sounded  good,  but  also  were  easy  to  read.6   Although  Tulis  notes  his  mistakes  in  the  Iran-­‐Contra  affair,  he  highlights  that  Reagan’s   ability  to  persuade  people  and  shift  policy  was  so  good,  that  Democrats  (in  1987)  talked   like  Republicans.  Ambassador  Paul  Russo,  who  worked  in  the  Reagan  administration,   mentions  that  Reagan’s  speeches  throughout  his  campaigns  and  his  tenure  as  President   contained  ‘basically  the  same  message.’7  Reagan’s  determination  to  stick  to  specific  topics   that  he  had  internalized  made  him  a  genuine  rhetorical  leader.  Whether  he  was  talking   about  anti-­‐communism  or  a  smaller  government,  the  message  was  singular  and  because  he                                                                                                                   5  (Tulis,  p4)  Tulis  sets  the  stage  for  his  book  “The  Rhetorical  Presidency”  by  explaining  that   presidential  rhetoric  has  transformed  from  age  to  age  in  America,  building  upon  old   methods  rather  than  changing  completely.     6  (Tulis,  p191)  Reagan  is  profiled  under  “Dilemmas  of  Governance.”     7  (Russo)  Class  lectures  on  President  Reagan  by  Ambassador  Paul  Russo     Modern  Presidential  Communication     5  
  8. 8.   was  able  to  describe  his  vision  through  years  of  practice  at  G.E.  and  as  a  sports  announcer,   his  “doctrine”  became  clear  to  people.8     Obama   Obama’s  campaigns  contained  a  singular  rhetorical  vision:  one  America  with  hope  to   change  for  the  better.  He  began  this  when  he  became  recognized  as  an  extraordinary  orator   at  the  Democratic  National  Convention  in  2004  when  he  spoke  for  John  Kerry.  The  same   message  stayed  with  him  throughout  the  2008  election  campaign.  He  believed  in  and   spread  the  message  that  is  exemplified  by  this  quote:     Well,  I  say  to  them  tonight,  there  is  not  a  liberal  America  and  a  conservative  America   —  there  is  the  United  States  of  America.  There  is  not  a  Black  America  and  a  White   America  and  Latino  America  and  Asian  America  —  there’s  the  United  States  of   America.9   Many  subsequent  speeches  echoed  his  sentiments  of  the  ‘hope’  that  Kerry  and  Edwards   were  offering  near  the  end  of  the  2004  speech.  With  this  speech,  Obama  had  created  the   ‘singular  rhetorical  vision’  that  would  be  then  used  for  the  rest  of  his  campaigns,  both   senatorial  and  presidential.     Build  a  community  from  and  of  the  target  audience   John  Maxwell,  in  many  of  his  books,  describes  a  common  pattern  of  great  leaders.   Good  leaders  create  a  community  of  people  through  their  influence.  Without  influence,  they                                                                                                                   8  (Kaufman)  Heritage  Foundation  talk  on  Ronald  Reagan’s  “first  principles  of  foreign   policy.”   9  (Obama)  Obama’s  debut  speech  at  the  2004  DNC.     Modern  Presidential  Communication     6  
  9. 9.   are  not  leaders.  Great  leaders  are  able  to  inspire  and  develop  people  into  leaders  in  a   community  that  then  inspire  others  to  follow.10  They  inspire  others  to  become  great   leaders  and  live  the  message  they  preach.  Bill  Drayton,  CEO  of  Ashoka  Foundation,   describes  “social  impact”  in  four  levels.  He  says  that  the  first  level  of  impact  is  direct   service,  the  second  level  is  scaling  the  service  with  more  people  in  a  group,  the  third  level  is   causing  a  pattern  change  that  people  outside  the  group  start  to  do  the  same  thing,  and  the   fourth  level  is  causing  a  framework  change  that  changes  lives  across  the  nation  or  the   world.11     Obama   Barrack  Obama’s  campaign  for  the  Presidency  in  2008,  and  then  in  2012  evidenced   his  ability  to  create  a  singular  rhetorical.  The  message  of  “Hope,”  “Change,”    “Change  we  can   believe  in,”  “Yes  we  can,”  and  most  importantly  “Vote”  were  clear  and  easy  to  digest.  Even  if   people  didn’t  agree  with  him,  they  knew  that  he  was  running  and  for  what.     The  message  of  the  singular  rhetorical  vision  alone  is  not  enough.  Without  an  audience  the   message  is  useless.  The  reason  that  Obama’s  messages  were  received  so  well  is  because  he   utilized  several  mechanisms  to  develop  leaders  within  his  campaign  organization.    Obama’s   election  was  more  than  election;  it  was  a  movement.    Obama’s  group  of  young  innovators   created  a  pattern  and  framework  change  in  the  way  to  cultivate  leaders  and  followers  for   their  movement.                                                                                                                     10  (Maxwell)  Describes  great  leadership  as  level  5  leadership:  leaders  that  develop  leaders.   11  (Drayton)  Small  group  discussion  with  Bill  Drayton  at  the  McDonough  School  of  Business   with  other  students.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     7  
  10. 10.   As  FDR  with  radio,  and  JFK  with  television,  Obama  utilized  social  media  as  the  technology   of  the  time.12  Obama’s  campaign  created  a  website  that  allowed  supporters  to  become   active  participants  by  recruiting  further  donors  and  supporters.  The  one  of  the  many   pattern  changes  that  Obama’s  team  implemented  was  the  use  of  social  media  for  organizing   people  for  citizen  action.  They  utilized  existing  ideas  in  social  network  software  to  create  that  then  became  the  central  hub  for  the  Obama  election  movement   for  people  around  the  country.    They  created  was  utilizing  social  media  to  connect  to  the   masses  into  a  community.13  FDR  and  JFK  may  have  utilized  their  communications   infrastructure  well,  but  Obama’s  team  created  their  own.14  Obama’s  campaign  first  created   a  pattern  change  in  the  management  of  political  movements  in  the  Democratic  Party.  By   influencing  McCain  and  Romney  to  follow  suit,  they  created  a  framework  change  by   changing  the  way  Republicans  do  business.     Listen  to  and  learn  from  the  community   When  McCain  mimicked  Obama’s  social  network  in  2008,  it  was  too  late  in  the   game.15  Romney  mimicked  Obama’s  use  of  social  media  and  email  in  2012,  but  lacked  an   important  element.  They  may  have  been  trying  very  hard  to  keep  up  with  the  technology   and  creating  a  community,  but  they  weren’t  listening.  Their  data  was  coming  from  Gallup                                                                                                                   12  (Nations)  Collection  of  notes  on  regarding  web  2.0  tendencies  by  the  Obama   campaign.   13  (Nations)  ibid.   14  (Smith)  Article  that  explains  how  the  technology  from  the  2008  election  was  being  used   in  Georgia  by  the  democrats.   15  (Ostrow)  Article  on  the  re-­‐launch  of  the  website.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     8  
  11. 11.   polls.  In  this  day  and  age,  Gallup  is  just  one  among  many  equally  good  sources  for  public   opinion  and  direction.       Obama   Gray  Keller’s  framework  for  servant  leadership  includes  a  very  simple  mnemonic   device  for  understanding  how  to  truly  engage  people  as  a  leader.  It  claims  that  good   leadership  is  about  loving  people,  listening  to  them,  learning  from  them,  liberating  them   from  their  struggle,  and  living  rather  than  leaving  a  legacy.16       One  of  the  major  innovations  in  the  2012  election  by  Obama’s  campaign  was  their   ability  to  listen  and  learn  to  their  constituents.  By  creating  a  social  network  platform  for   their  political  movement,  they  then  gave  it  to  the  Democratic  Party.  During  the  2008  and   the  2012  elections,  the  platform  continuously  improved  to  do  more  than  just  organize   people  on  a  website.  The  platform  was  collecting  information  in  various  ways  to   understand  the  actions  people  were  taking:  logging  on  to  their  site;  the  people  opening  the   emails;  sharing  the  message  on  a  social  network;  and  countless  other  activities.17    This   trend  is  known  elsewhere  in  the  industry  as  utilizing  “analytics”  to  measure  “key  metrics”   and  “leveraging  Big  Data”  to  make  intelligent  decisions  and  take  intelligent  actions.   Create  actionable  content  around  the  singular  rhetorical  vision   The  best  visionaries  are  able  to  communicate  their  ideas  in  such  a  way  that  others   can  understand,  own,  and  help  carry  the  vision  to  fruition.  Once  the  President  or                                                                                                                   16  (Keller)  Class  lecture  /  Presentation  by  leadership  expert  in  “Character  Conscience  and   Courage”  class.   17  (Levinthal)  Article  on  the  amount  of  data  that  is  collecting  on  users.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     9  
  12. 12.   Presidential  candidate  has  a  solid  community  to  speak  to,  the  singular  rhetorical  vision   must  be  created  as  actionable  content.  Although  collecting  data  from  the  community  has   been  a  part  of  every  presidential  campaign  since  Reagan,  recently,  it  is  the  ability  to  create   personalized  actionable  content  that  differentiates  the  winners  from  the  losers.     Reagan     Although  Reagan  himself  was  a  great  rhetorician,  his  team  hired  the  right  folks  to   help  advertise  him  in  the  1984  election.  Utilizing  simple  yet  powerful  ads  that  struck  the   nerve  of  the  American  people,  they  were  able  to  motivate  people  to  keep  Reagan  as   President.18     The  “Bear  in  the  Woods  “  commercial  that  aired  during  Reagan’s  election  campaign   against  Walter  Mondale,  was  created  using  data  collected  from  focus  groups.  Specific  issues   that  were  “problem  areas”  for  Reagan  against  Mondale  were  analyzed.19  One  of  the  major   issues  was  “world  peace.”  When  the  “Bear  in  the  Woods”  ad  was  tested  in  a  focus  group,  it   was  validated  to  bring  up  thoughts  of  “peace  through  strength.”20   By  listening  to  the  people  and  what  their  concerns  were,  Reagan’s  team  was  able  to   create  content  crafted  to  alleviate  their  concerns.                                                                                                                     18  (Raine)  Article  on  Riney,  one  of  the  folks  that  helped  create  Reagan’s  image  in  1984.   19  (Merrin)  Conversation  with  marketing  expert  that  told  me  how  focus  groups  were  used   to  understand  the  concerns  of  the  American  people  and  the  “gateway”  issues  which  would   make  or  break  the  election.     20  (Wikipedia)  Article  regarding  the  “Bear  in  the  woods”  commecial.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     10  
  13. 13.   Obama   As  far  back  as  the  2008  and  as  recently  as  the  2012  elections,  Obama  and  now  the   Democratic  Party  has  been  utilizing  advanced  tools  to  create  personalized  actionable   content  to  “activate”  people  from  passers  by.  The  viral  nature  of  social  networks  allowed   the  Obama  campaign  to  recruit  millions  of  people  across  several  social  networks  including   their  own.  The  data  that  they  collected  on  was  then  used  to  create   personalized  email  campaigns  that  sent  the  users  to  personalized  landing  pages  that  asked   them  to  take  relevant  actions  on  the  website  depending  on  what  they  clicked,  where  they   were  from,  or  what  information  was  stored  about  them.21  Obama’s  vision  of  change   included  the  people  that  were  supporting  him  and  by  including  them  in  the  campaign,  he   gave  them  a  part  in  the  new  vision  of  America  of  ‘Change’  and  ‘Hope’  that  he  was  trying  to   bring  to  light.  trained  its  users  to  personalize  their  home  pages  on  the  site   and  then  empowered  them  to  create  personalized  sub-­‐campaigns  to  recruit  supporters.   Language  on  the  site  included  calls  to  action  such  as  “Four  Steps  to  Raising  Money  from   your  Friends”22  and  politely  motivated  them  to  “Reach  out  to  Voters”  by  asking  them  to   “Make  Calls”  and  “Knock  on  Doors”.23                                                                                                                     21  (Ciotti)  Article  on  industry  blog  on  metrics  measurement  and  anlaysis  regarding  5  email   lessons  gained  from  Barack  Obama’s  campaigns   22  (Organizing  for  Action)  Document  from  the  old   23  (Organizing  for  Action)  Document  from  the  old   Modern  Presidential  Communication     11  
  14. 14.   Spread  and  propagate  the  message   Regardless  of  whether  the  content  of  the  message  is  a  call  to  recruit  more  people  to   bombard  their  representatives  to  vote  a  certain  way,  raise  money  for  a  campaign,  or  to   create  a  local  chapter  to  grow  the  vision,  the  message  must  be  spread  in  a  way  that  people   listen.     The  challenge  for  the  modern  President  or  the  Presidential  candidate  is  to   understand  what  is  the  best  communications  infrastructure  to  use  and  when  to  use  it.    As   mentioned  before,  FDR  pioneered  the  use  of  radio  for  politics,  JFK,  the  television,  and   Obama,  the  social  networks.  Each  media  outlet  is  necessary  but  not  sufficient.  Up  until  FDR,   other  media  continued  to  exist  in  the  form  of  newspapers.  By  JFK’s  time,  radio  was   widespread  in  addition  to  the  newspaper.  If  the  singular  rhetorical  vision  is  to  be  spread  to   call  to  action  the  populace  to  take  civic  action  whether  by  their  vote,  their  call  to  their   elected  official,  or  to  grow  the  movement,  it  must  be  spread  with  and  by  all  tactical   methods  possible.     Today,  there  are  growing  numbers  of  online  marketing  and  campaign  strategies  that   should  be  utilized  in  conjunction  with  traditional  marketing  and  campaigning.  These   “strategies”  have  recently  started  to  coalesce  into  books  such  as  The  Ultimate  Web   Marketing  Guide  that  define  the  different  types  of  “new  media”  and  how  to  utilize  them.24   These  online  strategies  are  in  some  ways  tactical  methods  for  a  higher  order  strategic   communications  process  such  as  the  one  this  paper  proposes,  and  in  some  sense  strategies                                                                                                                   24  (Miller)  One  of  the  many  books  on  online  marketing  today  that  covers  several  online   strategies.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     12  
  15. 15.   that  need  to  be  designed  for  specific  audiences.  Since  these  technologies  will  continue  to   change  in  the  future,  the  approach  matters  more  than  the  method.  Romney  and  Obama   both  used  email,  but  Obama’s  team  was  able  to  engage  and  activate  more  people  because   they  “listened”  to  their  constituents  and  re-­‐propagated  more  finely  tuned  messaging.     Activate  community  members  to  participants   The  President  is  the  leader  of  the  United  States  but  should  not  assume  that  all   community  members  are  listening.  Neither  the  President  nor  the  Presidential  candidate   has  any  guarantee  that  those  that  are  listening  to  the  message  are  acting.  Activation  and   active  engagement  is  the  key  to  any  campaign.  Activation  and  engagement  are  not  a  simple   linear  process.  They  are  components  of  a  continuously  cyclical  process  that  strives  to  raise   the  most  in-­‐active  members  in  the  community  to  the  most  active  members  in  the   community.  If  the  message  of  the  singular  rhetorical  vision  is  good,  if  the  community  is   strong,  if  the  message  is  tuned  according  to  what  the  masses  are  saying,  if  the  content  has   been  personalized  for  the  community  member,  if  it  has  been  spread  across  several  forms  of   media,  then  there  is  a  likely  hood  that  it  has  been  received.     The  reception  of  the  message  should  then  trigger  an  action,  however  little  and   insignificant.  It  may  take  several  cycles  of  communication  in  order  to  convince  someone  to   take  physical  action.  This  has  been  known  in  the  business  practices  of  Sales  and  Marketing   for  years.  It  may  take  several  touch-­‐points  to  get  someone  to  “buy,”  and  continue,  “using”  to   Modern  Presidential  Communication     13  
  16. 16.   create  a  meaningful  “customer  experience.”25  A  successful  series  of  campaigns  keeps  a   ‘customer  for  life’  with  a  high  customer  lifetime  value.     Each  communications  cycle  may  result  in  higher  order  activation  from  the  one   before,  but  no  matter  how  insignificant,  it  builds  mindshare  in  the  person  and  starts  to   make  them  loyal  to  the  message.  For  example,  a  sample  “supporter  journey  map”  for  a   citizen  that  becomes  a  registered  voter  through  a  campaign  might  look  like  this:  citizen;   reader  of  forwarded  campaign  email;  visitor  of  campaign  website  landing  page;  subscriber   to  email  list  with  some  personal  information;  receiver  of  personalized  email;  forwarder  of   email  to  friends;  receiver  of  email  to  register  to  vote;  registered  voter.  A  journey  map  from   a  registered  voter  to  a  voter  that  votes  for  a  candidate  is  much  more  complicated  and   requires  a  complicated  set  of  machinery  to  measure  and  ensure  success.  Each  person’s   ability  to  impact  others  is  magnified  because  of  the  interconnectedness  of  the  Internet.   Obama’s  campaigns  created  ‘lifetime’  followers  in  “Obama  for  America”  that  elected  him  to   office,  and  wanted  to  support  his  initiatives  with  what  is  now  the  “Organizing  for  Action”   because  they  strove  to  activate  and  actively  engage  people  to  become  active  and  engaged   citizens,  not  just  voters  for  a  presidential  term.     Measure  to  improve.  Improve  to  succeed.  Repeat.   In  the  technology  startup  community,  several  schools  of  thought  have  convened  on  a   few  principles  of  success  for  Internet  companies.  Some  books  such  as  Eric  Reis’  Lean                                                                                                                   25  (Richardson)  HBR  Blog  article  about  the  importance  of  touchpoints  in  creating  customer   experience.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     14  
  17. 17.   Startup  Method,  reiterate  ideas  from  the  Toyota  Engineering  Method  and  Steve  Blank’s   Four  Steps  to  the  Epiphany.  One  such  principle  is  the  idea  of  “Build  –  Measure  –  Learn”  that   says  that  after  all  action  is  validated  and  accounted  for,  the  team  must  build,  measure,  and   learn  through  a  virtuous  cycle.26  The  exact  metrics  that  need  to  be  measured  depends  on   the  vision,  strategy,  and  whatever  happens  to  be  the  “product.”  The  vision  rarely  changes.   The  strategy  may  change  as  part  of  a  “pivot”  in  thought  of  how  to  do  something.  The   product  changes  frequently  with  build,  measurement  of  user  activity,  and  learning  what  the   users  want.     Thus  far,  others  in  the  startup  community  have  also  created  a  canon  for  core  metrics   that  every  “internet”  presence  should  measure  including  online  campaigns  that  wish  to   activate  citizens  into  actively  engaged  citizens.  These  include  “Acquisitions,”  “Activations,”   “Referrals,”  “Retention,”  and  “Revenue.”  Surprisingly,  these  correlate  fairly  well  with  the   metrics  that  the  President’s  or  the  Presidential  candidate’s  team  should  be  measuring  to   tune  their  communications  cycle.       Obama   Obama’s  campaigns  in  2008  and  2012  both  utilized  the  data  they  collected  on  users   to  understand  user  behaviors  as  well  as  how  to  maximize  metrics  similar  to  those                                                                                                                   26  (Reis)  The  Lean  Startup  Method  has  popularized  the  “kaizen”  method  used  by  Toyota  for   years.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     15  
  18. 18.   mentioned  earlier  and  others  that  were  more  specific  to  the  type  of  media  that  was   utilized.27     Obama’s  campaign  utilized  metrics  to  maximize  metrics  across  all  media  channels   available  to  them.  They  utilized  targeted  method  of  advertising  to  acquire  users  on  several   platforms  such  as  Twitter,  Facebook,  and  YouTube  in  addition  to  their  own.  They  continued   to  fine-­‐tune  their  broadcast  mechanisms  and  used  various  methods  to  see  what  methods   acquired  the  most  users.  Once  they  had  people’s  attention,  they  utilized  and  measured  the   different  methods  for  activating  these  users  into  more  active  participants.  Once  they  had   participants,  they  then  empowered  them  to  refer/recruit  others  all  the  while  continuously   improving  to  retain  them  on  their  various  platforms  to  build  community,  mindshare,  and  a   movement.     The  differentiating  factor  for  Obama’s  campaign  engine  is  that  they  followed  simple   processes  to  create  a  feedback  loop  from  the  people  they  were  trying  to  motivate  into   action.  With  the  help  of  technology,  they  were  able  to  “listen”  better.  They  were  able  to   “build  –  measure  –  learn”  like  the  modern  technology  startups  and  keep  changing  with  the   times.     Change  is  the  only  constant   The  world  is  changing.  People,  processes,  and  information  are  continuously  self-­‐ organizing  into  new  patterns  and  frameworks,  led  by  change  makers  and  leaders  that                                                                                                                   27  (SocialMedia8)  Slideshow  showing  aspects  of  the  Barack  Obama  Strategy   Modern  Presidential  Communication     16  
  19. 19.   understand  that  change  is  elemental.  Modern  presidents  need  to  embrace  each  new   technology  that  comes  with  the  accelerated  pace  of  a  globalized  inter-­‐connected  world.     In  the  corporate  world,  the  role  of  information  and  technology  have  transformed  the   way  businesses  are  structured,  run,  grow,  and  communicate  with  their  customers.    As  the   role  of  the  Chief  Information  Officer  and  the  Chief  Technology  Officer  are  elevated,  the  Chief   Marketing  Officers  are  prioritizing  customer  loyalty  as  their  biggest  digital  concern.28         The  President  and  the  presidential  candidate’s  job  are  different  from  a  CEO’s.  The   role  of  the  government  and  that  of  a  campaign  is  different  from  what  a  business  does.   Though  these  systems  are  different,  the  communications  cycles  are  similar.    The  elements   of  rhetoric  are  as  relevant  as  they  were  in  Aristotle’s  time.  The  idea  that  great  leadership  is   an  act  of  empowering  leaders  is  as  relevant  as  in  any  organization.  The  President  leads  by   communicating  rhetorically,  by  persuading  the  population  to  move  a  certain  way.  They  get   there  by  convincing  the  masses  with  the  same  rhetorical  skills.  The  times  are  different,  but   the  job  of  communicating  is  the  same.     From  the  examples  of  FDR,  JFK,  Reagan,  and  primarily  Obama,  we  can  see  an   example  of  a  rhetorical  president  that  not  only  uses  the  communications  infrastructure   available  but  also  innovates  new  ones  because  that  is  the  change  that  is  required.  Although   Obama’s  rhetoric  was  communicated  using  pattern  and  framework  changes  in  the   communications  systems,  Obama  advertised  his  agenda  as  a  pattern  and  framework                                                                                                                   28  (IBM)  Study  of  trends  of  Chief  Marketing  Officers   Modern  Presidential  Communication     17  
  20. 20.   change.  He  embraced  the  idea  that  change  is  necessary  to  move  forward.  He  established  his   credibility  (ethos)  through  speeches  that  struck  at  the  heart  of  people’s  lives  (pathos)  and   showed  them  that  a  system  change  was  necessary  (logos).  His  team  took  this  singular   rhetorical  vision,  created  a  community  of  followers  and  burgeoning  leaders,  and  together   propagated  the  message  across  the  country  while  improving  how  they  were  doing  it.     Modern  Presidential  Communication     18  
  21. 21.   Bibliography   Aristotle.  On  Rhetoric.  Trans.  George  Kennedy.  n.d.   Ciotti,  Gregory.  5  Email  Marketing  Lessons  From  The  Obama  Campaign.  1  November  2012.   28  April  2013  <­‐marketing-­‐lessons-­‐obama/>.   Drayton,  Bill.  Conversation  with  Georgetown  University  Students  before  SIPS  Fund  Lecture   Rahul  Singh.  23  April  2013.   IBM.  "From  Stretched  to  Strengthened,  Insights  from  the  Global  Chief  Marketing  Officer."   25  October  2011.  28  April  2013  <­‐ cmos>.   Kaufman,  Robert  G.  The  First  Principles  of  Ronald  Reagan's  Foreign  Policy.  1  November   2011.  28  April  2013  <­‐first-­‐ principles-­‐of-­‐ronald-­‐reagans-­‐foreign-­‐policy>.   Keller,  Gray.  Lecture  to  Character,  Conscience,  and  Courage  Class  Rahul  Singh.  23  March   2013.   Levinthal,  Dave.  Obama's  2012  campaign  is  watching  you.  16  March  2013.  28  April  2013   <>.   Maxwell,  John.  The  Five  Levels  of  Leadership.  New  York:  Center  Street,  2011.   Merrin,  Mary  Beth.  Conversation  with  DMR  CEO,  Mary  Beth  Merrin  Rahul  Singh.  10  March   2010.   Miller,  Michael.  The  Ultimate  Web  Marketing  Guide.  Indianapolis:  Pearson  Education,  Que   Publishing,  2011.   Nations,  Daniel.  How  Barack  Obama  Is  Using  Web  2.0  to  Run  for  President.  12  December   2012.  28  April  2013  <­‐web.htm>.   Obama,  Senatorial  Candidate  Barack.  "Barack  Obama's  Inspiring  2004  Democratic   Convention  Speech."  27  July  2004.  -­‐  U.S.  Liberals.  28  April  2013   <>.   Modern  Presidential  Communication     19  
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