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Watching movies and TV series about the White House and the president has created this public image of “acting presidential” for the leader of the free world.  It’s always seemed to be a sophisticated, almost stuffy persona.

But when President Barack Obama visited Phoenix last week, he was anything but stuffy.

He greeted the high school crowd at Desert Vista High School with a rock concert-like opening, “Helloooo Phoenix!”   “Helloooo Arizona!”

I guess that’s knowing who your audience is.  You certainly wouldn’t see him do that from the Oval Office!

Following his stop in Phoenix, the president hopped over to Los Angeles to make his sixth appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, his fourth as president.  In fact, President Obama was the first sitting president to do late-night television, back in 2009.

This comes off as a tremendous communication platform that seems to take away some of the mystique of the presidency.

Much like we would tell our own clients, knowing your audience is essential to communicating your key messages.  And having the appropriate venue is another must.

With that said, has the sophistication of the office of president gotten away from us and gone Hollywood?

Photo via Erin Roman, www.bizjournals.com


Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio


  1. David Landis says:

    I’d say use whatever channel works. . .and these days, that means traditional media, popular media, social media, digital media and video! Engage, engage, engage! Cheers, David

  2. Tom Purdy says:

    Scott, to answer your question, I’d say “the sophistication of the office of the president” — really management of the image — has become more sophisticated as the tools and audiences have multiplied. As Mr. Landis noted, “use whatever channel works.” And that speaks to the why: More than ever, our president is the Communicator-in-Chief. A communicator as well as office-holder with a responsibility to convey information to the governed. For communication professionals, an interesting and similar debate can be found on CNN.com about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent Vogue photos.

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