Tech & The District » Barack Obama Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Are you saying Ni to internal communications? Wed, 22 Apr 2009 23:18:53 +0000 Chad Torbin I was fortunate enough to sit in on a rather fine luncheon today at the J.W. Marriott and an even greater speech by President Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe on “technology as the holy grail” at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)’s annual Washington Forum in DC today.Plouffe addressed many of the key 2008 election strategies and like Chris Anderson at his keynote address at this year’s FOSE conference hammered home the same uber-message; meet them [your audience] where they live. A fairly uncomplicated message, especially given the times, but yet so many things about the Obama campaign seemed so simple yet one would be hard pressed to duplicate them with such vigor in our own companies or lives.

And while we hear example after example about how the Obama campaign leveraged technology to reach millions of targeted individuals in thousands of different cities, fund raise and organize, what I hadn’t thought of is how the same technologies – text messaging, facebook, video, and email – were used to push internal communications as well. While technology is credited with helping drive votes, it was also leveraged as a platform to make sure thousands of staffers were on message 24/7. That’s no simple task for any campaign.

While we’ve all heard of what a success it was externally, as Plouffe pointed out today it was internally just as big a coup as anything else. 


]]> 0 Open House Not Just White Noise Fri, 13 Feb 2009 14:58:24 +0000 Saskia Stegeman Earlier this week, I had my first browse through the White House Web site and thought it was a good signal of how the new Obama administration is likely to change the way the White House communicates to the American public.


The active integration of new media tools is not surprising given how the Obama campaign harnessed communications technology and social media  from the start , although adapting to White House infrastructure has posed some challenges – as Obama spokesman Bill Burton told the Washington Post, it was “….kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.”


In addition to regular background information, press releases, statements and agenda items the site features a blog which is frequently updated and links to Obama’s weekly video address.  Most interestingly perhaps, the Web site lists the White House agenda on key policy issues such as economics, healthcare and technology. This promotes transparency and holds the administration accountable to what they set out to do and in some cases contains some very tangible metrics, particularly in the area of energy and the environment.


A key objective on President Obama’s technology agenda is to “… ensure the full and free exchange of information through an open Internet and use technology to create a more transparent and connected democracy”  and the administration seems to be taking active steps in that direction.


But a comment made by a friend who is a foreign correspondent here during a recent dinner party also got me thinking about a potential flip-side to this development. He said that he had found the Obama campaign and, to date, the Obama administration, less accommodating towards the press than the Bush administration or other campaigns, and attributed it to the fact that they weren’t as reliant on journalists to reach key target audiences. 


The growth of online communication tools is having a dramatic impact on the media landscape as all of us working in the field can see. This can lead to new and exciting opportunities for those of us working in PR, as Bill McIntyre of Grassroots Enterprise noted in a recent article that was published in PR Week.  However, in a democratic society, the press plays an important role in maintaining balance between state, business and societal interest – in part by asking tough questions and filtering information. Care must be taken to safeguard that role.


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Could Obama’s CTO Come from D.C.? Thu, 08 Jan 2009 19:00:00 +0000 Vanessa Truskey I think most people are surprised to hear that the Washington, D.C. area is actually one of the top regions for technology and innovation on the East Coast.  It might have something to do with that old perception that the Federal government runs somewhat behind the times in overall technology adoption.  While we could debate that topic until the cows come home, President-Elect Obama will hopefully have changed that perception by the end of his first term if things continue to go as he has planned.

That perception of stodgy Federal IT is one of the reasons why I found Kim Hart’s Washington Post feature  on D.C.’s chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, so interesting.  (For our PR readers – what a great placement of a tech story on the front page, above the fold, Business section!) We’ve all heard that the President-Elect is planning to appoint the nation’s first CTO (though the responsibilities of the role are still uncertain), but in fact, Kundra has been named as a possible candidate.  It speaks to how far technology has come in D.C. (or how far its progressing) that a city not previously known for its tech-savvy could now stand to be the blueprint for technology adoption across the U.S.

What do you think about tech-savvy in the Federal government?  Is this likely to change any time soon?

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