President Obama took to Twitter last week in an effort to stoke a new White House public relations campaign about the fiscal cliff. In question is how Congressional failure to reach a budget deal this year, which would automatically trigger tax increases in 2013, would affect middle class families. If current tax rates are allowed to expire, it is estimated that it will result in about $2,000 worth of tax increases for the average family of four.
The PR campaign the White House launched is called My2k and asks “What Does $2,000 Mean to you?” WhiteHouse.gov asks this question on its homepage and President Obama himself was filmed introducing the Twitter hashtag #My2k on his personal laptop.
A White House infographic highlights some of the 75,000+ submissions from people to Whitehouse.gov and the 160,000+ tweets. For example, Stephan from Florida wrote “It could be the difference in sustaining our family business form one month to the next” and @roadie374 tweeted “#My2k would help me pay down college debt and support local businesses.”
The brilliance of this PR campaign is three-fold:
1) It catches attention with a creative hook. My2k plays off of the “Y2K” fad in the year 2000. My2k is about your $2000. “Not ‘Y2K’ – ‘My2K’” Obama said. “We figured it’d be a little easier to remember.”
2) It allows the President to promote his point of view. The main point of contention between the President and his Republican colleagues in reaching a budget deal has been the President’s agenda to increase taxes for the wealthy, which he believes would help the middle class. Asking middle class families what $2,000 means to them implicitly promotes his agenda. Engaging with users directly on twitter does so explicitly: “cuts w/out revenue = reductions in student loans; work/study & college tax credits expire. Bad for growth – bo”.
3) It provides a call to action. The more the President can arouse awareness of his point of view, the more people become convinced of a need to act. After all, only the people outside of gridlocked Washington have the power to pressure their elected officials to strike a deal. At the end of the President’s Twitter session he wrote, “Gotta go. Thx. Keep pressure on Congress. Call, email, tweet your Member & tell them what 2k means to you. Lets get it done.”
We couldn’t have done it better ourselves. Now let’s just hope for a deal.