Barack Obama posted a video message online yesterday announcing that he is forming a Presidential Exploratory Committee. A video. Online. No press conference, no media alert, no interview with Barbara Walters or Larry King.
This isn’t the first time, we’ve seen politicians use the web to their advantage. Rewind to Howard Dean’s online fundraising campaign of 2004. But never have we seen a politician use the web to completely circumvent the media as a whole and communicate such an important message. H. Ross Perot did it in 1992, when he bought 30 minutes of airtime on all the major networks, but that cost a few million dollars. Obama’s spot might have cost a few grand.
That’s not to say he didn’t get plenty of media.
In some ways, it’s exhilarating. We all know “You” are Time’s Person of the Year, but will “You” one day replace the media? Or perhaps the media will change to be more like you. Will PR be a leading or reacting force?
One other thing – if Barack Obama decides to launch a full-out presidential campaign and is successful, will he continue this one-to-one viral video strategy? Are the days of the networks’ hold over the State of the Union and other addresses to country on the way out? Will we finally have a president that catches up with our interactive nation? Could we have an online Oval office?