Reflections on Obama’s Use of Technology for His State of the Union Address

This post written by Nancy Drapeau, PRC

This blog is not about the content of President Obama’s speech, so whether you are for or against the current administration, this blog is still relevant. I am writing to share my experiences on ‘how’ I listened last night. I think it provides insight into the importance of exhibition organizers to leverage what the Internet offers for extending the reach of one’s event to audiences who are very interested though who are unable to attend or participate via conventional methods. It also highlights an opportunity on how to obtain immediate feedback from one’s audiences via social media.

Given that I am a mother of an 11 year-old attempting to juggle one million things, as things would have it, instead of being at home when the speech began, I was shopping at Walmart. It’s important to me to tune in to what the president is advocating, given the substantial impact government can have on the health of the U.S. and the global economies. Thank goodness for my iPhone. As I shopped, I listened to the live stream via the White House’s website. They offered an option for those who may be experiencing difficulty, which was inevitable walking through a big box store. It worked. Of course there were a couple of glitches as my iPhone shuffled in my pocket, though that was me, not the phone!

What impressed me further was what happened after the session. The live stream shifted to a session with a panel of the administration’s experts on key issue areas, speaking to a room full of what appeared to be supporters, individuals with titles suggesting they are opinion leaders in their spheres of influence.  This session was yet again a powerful method to communicate their messaging, deepening the understanding of what they want to accomplish.

Even better, during this session, they encouraged those who were tuning in to go to a functionality they had available where one could highlight text of the speech that resonated with the person and a chance to explain why it resonated. They also encouraged folks to tweet their sentiments. So in this chance to interact, the White House received immediate feedback on the most powerful aspects of the President’s speech among what is likely the administration’s core supporters or watchers and a chance to have them ‘share’ these sentiments with others, pretty brilliant.

I am sure there are some rich opportunities in this experience for exhibition organizers to reflect upon. Some exhibitions are already leveraging the power of the Internet. For those who are not, start thinking! For organizers reading the blog, what about this experience triggers ideas to explore? How can you leverage your event’s content real-time to reach a broader audience who have an affinity for your event though, for whatever reason, they are unable to come, this time.

CEIR has conducted research on the use of digital marketing tactics by both exhibition organizers and exhibitors. To obtain a copy of the report, visit http://www.ceir.org. CEIR is planning to update this report this year. So stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming year….

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