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Barack Obama thought leadership

I haven’t seen much to applaud in the current administration or the recent presidential debates. So I thought I’d harken back to the Obama White House PR campaign strategy for some ideas you can apply to your own publicity campaign.

1. Define your image as a thought leader.

While I don’t particularly like the word “image” what I mean by it here is that in creating a consistent character that embodies your deepest principles, people perceive you as “whole” and trustworthy. We align with leaders who are aligned with themselves.

We know instinctively if thought leaders are who they appear to be and if their facial, body and verbal language match.

According to Joel Benenson, the primary pollster for the Obama campaign, Obama’s image was more clearly defined than McCain’s. Benenson said that Obama had an anti-Washington reputation that was characterized by his insistence that he was “going to tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.”

publicity like barack obama

Barack Obama’s publicity strategy

People perceived Obama as a truth teller, which is something we hunger for. To solidify trust as a thought leader, authority, expert, influencer, or burgeoning personality, define yourself clearly, tell the truth, then follow that up with actions that demonstrate you’re committed to those truths at any cost.

2. Create a strong, positive and consistent message.
Barack Obama had one simple, elegant philosophical approach that was easy to understand and to assimilate. “Voters are looking for the remedy not the replica”.

His strategy was to position his opponent, John McCain, as the replica and himself the remedy. This became the core of his campaign.

Distill your message into one clear sentence that has deep resonance. Then build the rest of your your publicity campaign on that core message.

presidential publicity strategy

President Obama publicity strategy

3. Communicate casually via video.
David Plouffe, a campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, did amateurish-looking videos discussing strategies to keep supporters and organizers excited, engaged and involved. These were not slick productions but were kept consciously rough-hewn to connect casually.

These videos are similar to the ones friends might send to each other to keep in touch on Facebook, Youtube or Instagram.

By keeping it casual they became more like chat sessions than formal lectures. Plouffe speaks directly to the camera with maps pinned to the wall and amidst piles of papers.

Barack Obama publicity campaign secrets you can use

Casual videos on your website where you face the camera and look directly into the eyes of viewers, make you approachable and human and add that “I feel like I already know you” sensibility.

Seeing someone in their personal environment also creates an atmosphere of trust and a sense of intimacy. Over time, this proper intimacy encourages loyalty and builds trust so your supporters come to believe in you in a profound way.


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