How did you follow the State of the Union?

For an hour on Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. He opened his speech remarking that we are 15 years into this new century. To me it felt like the first truly contemporary SOTU. Perhaps it was because the White House published the complete prepared remarks online for the public before “My fellow Americans” was even said. Or because President Obama mentioned 70 words that have never appeared in a SOTU, such as “transgender” and “Tesla.” And maybe it was the Guardian’s choice to transcribe the President’s remarks only in emojis.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 6.40.18 PM


What all these things have in common, though, is that they were about avenues of communication. The White House wanted to reach its maximum audience, and the news media wanted to inform people in new ways. What was lacking, though — at least among my social media feeds — was similar innovation and content experimentations from nonprofits and advocacy groups.

Instead of live-blogging, an educational organization could have gathered teachers to directly respond to those also doing live coverage, especially members of the media, on the topics the President addressed. The media was also vocal on what is a now-common flack tactic, issuing a CEO or Executive Director’s statement on the speech. (Quite a few journalists commented on the state of their inboxes at 10:01 pm.) A better use of the media’s time would be to provide them with supportive, original research ahead of the speech and develop a series of milestones to follow-up with reporters on following the State of the Union.

The State of the Union is a great moment of opportunity to try new communication tactics to break through the chatter and reach your most important audiences be they grassroots supporters, busy journalists or government policy makers themselves.

Is an interpretive dance by a miniature robot for #SOTU16 that far behind?