Center for Strategic Communication

by Bud Goodall

The headlines from WatchAmerica show worldwide optimism and support for President-Elect Obama.  Yet, despite this large and welcoming window of public diplomacy opportunity, there are still 10 weeks to go before President Obama is sworn in and can officially represent America.  In the meantime, we have a world waiting to see if we have, in fact, something newer and better to offer under a new administration while the old and roundly discredited administration still commands media attention and wields whatever is left of its power.

What can Obama do?  What should he do?  From a strategic communication perspective it would be a serious mistake to let this moment pass.  Here are three strategies derived from a 21st Century Model of Communication that allow him to capitalize on this unique opportunity as a public diplomat before he assumes the office of the Presidency:

  1. Transfer his Internet success in the campaign to a strategic communication campaign to rebuild our image in the world:  Obama and his team constructed the most powerful political fundraising network in the history of US elections, and what that team learned about leveraging social networks, viral marketing, and the use of alternative news sources must be mined in a new effort to create and sustain the positive initial perceptions of the US via an Obama administration.
  2. Create one or two major disruptions in “business as usual” via bold strategic communication moves that capitalize on existing hopes for the US Foreign Policy: Steve Corman has opined on this subject and called for a “game-changer” that significantly shifts attention away from perceptions of the US as arrogant to one of humility.  Obama is perfectly situated to do that now.
  3. Move from “Yes We Can” to “Yes We Have”:  Launch a weekly press conference that updates us all on the fulfillment of campaign promises regarding the improvement of our image in the world and the steps he has taken to rebuild an effective diplomacy team.
These steps may be undertaken before he takes the oath of office on January 20th, and should continue to inform his strategic communication team afterward.  But my point today is that this is no time to ignore or postpone addressing the foreign and domestic concerns about his administration and their intentions.  Speaking as a prominent citizen–one just elected President–he has a platform that does not interfere with the conduct of government between now and January, but rather smoothes the way to it.