6 #SOTU Lessons Companies Should Implement Now

6 #SOTU Lessons Companies Should Implement Now

We now live in a world where people spend less time watching TV than they do browsing the Internet. As marketers, it seems pretty natural to go where people are most likely to consume your message. And when you have good news to share and a strong vision you should find as many opportunities as possible to amplify it. This year’s State of the Union will be remembered for its focus on inequality and the middle class; but maybe more so for its unique roll out to the public — a job extremely well done by The White House digital team.

Whether it’s the State of the Union, annual shareholder’s meeting, sporting event or product release there are several lessons from this year’s SOTU digital roll out that can be applied to any company or organization:

Go direct to consumer. We no longer have to rely on broadcast networks to get a message out to the masses. The administration knew that every American would not drop everything to watch the State of the Union. In fact, last year we saw one of the lowest viewership of the address of 33 million people (according to Nielsen). This year, the White House instead took their message directly to Upworthy, Twitter, Facebook and Medium, Instagram and whitehouse.gov. In particular, the Upworthy content partnership allowed the White House to align their broadband message to an interested and receptive audience that might be more difficult to reach on TV.

Tailor your message to your audience based on who they are and where they’re consuming content. If you are on the White House email list, you are likely to be more engaged than the normal citizen and more likely to watch the State of the Union, participate in a civic dialogue or ask others to do so. With this, the White House effectively communicated with these supporters and also made it easy for people to watch the speech their mobile devices and computers. And, as the President pointed out in his Upworthy YouTube video – the people watching in Cedar Falls, IA or Chattanooga, TN probably saw the speech in near real-time.

Break up your key points on other channels, but allow people to go deeper on your own site. Breaking up your content increases the likelihood that people see your message. I might not have 90 minutes to devote to the SOTU, but I might have five minutes. So what can I get in five minutes? To solve for this, the White House put a watch guide on Medium to highlight key points. They also put up behind the scenes videos on YouTube. Citizens were treated to interactive features on whitehouse.gov where they could comment and view milestones, which also see an enhanced the State of the Union to show the administration’s progress.

- Make people a part of the process. Throughout the week, different speech writers and staff gained control of the White House Instagram account to give people a look behind the scenes. Similarly, when corporations show how products are being made or the employees behind the scenes, this can help humanize the organization and make it more relatable.

- Ask people for input and make it easy for people to participate. Before the speech, The White House asked people for their feedback for the first ever “Citizen Memo.” Today they are closing the loop by making the President available for a YouTube interview where people are being asked to solicit questions and guide the interview. Listening to customers and responding to feedback is an essential part of business. Digital has helped us do this more efficiently.

Extend the moment. In today’s rapidly changing news environment, it is easy for consumers and media outlets to move on quickly. It is up to organizations to extend their own moments and ensure their message breaks through. The White House team did a great job of teasing out key points and facts ahead of the SOTU and are still working today to reinforce the message from last night with #AskTheWH #BigBlockofCheeseDay. This type of approach is even more important for companies who are trying to reinforce progress and amplify good news to busy audiences like shareholders, consumers and other stakeholders.   

What this really comes down to is that it is important to respect people’s time and give your message the best chance possible to be seen and digested. We will continue to see media consumption shift to digital and as marketers, we must match this shift with creativity and timely execution.