Culture and communications

It has occurred to me that some visitors to this site may ask why there are posts covering the news of the day, matters involving politics, popular culture, etc? What is the relevance to a blog dedicated to communicators and communications? Before plunging ahead, let me assure you that this post is about as technical as this blog gets. One of the guiding principles for this blog is that: it shall be generally understandable to all who seek to gain from its information. This is carved in stone. So bear with me on this one, because in order to make the point, I have to get “technical”. Here goes. 

There is, first of all a hint in the name of the blog itself. “Communicators” are individuals who have messages to transmit in some way, through media, public speaking, and so forth. By and large I am using the term to refer to those who have a public presence in this regard, for example say, President Obama or Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (more to come on Mr. Geithner in a separate post).

Now one of the accepted definitions of “culture” is: “an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning” (taken from Wikipedia, keyword: “culture”). So “culture” and “communication” are inextricably connected.

In fact, the basic premise of the bestselling text MediaMaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture is that: “mass communication cannot be studied apart from the other institutions in society and the other dimensions of social life – each is shaping and defining the other.” (quoted from the Amazon.com editorial review of the book). My position is that this applies to communications in general, and this theory, if you will, is paramount to a basic understanding of communications overall. In every post, I endeavor to address the matter undertaken from a communications perspective.  That’s as it should be with a blog named “Communicators & Communications”. We now adjourn sine die.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/22/culture-and-communications/

Bookmark and Share

President Obama on late night TV

I raised this issue in a previous post: https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/12/franklin-roosevelt-invents-the-fireside-chat/


namely, what is the most effective means President Barack Obama can use to communicate with and to the American public in this present crisis environment? I’m not talking here about the usual and customary. These are not usual and customary circumstances we face as a nation. What’s needed is a creative solution to the urgent requirement for the President, as “Communicator in Chief” as I have previously referred to the role, to garner the confidence of the citizenry that we will prevail against the economic travail we have encountered; granting the content of the message is of utmost importance, the “packaging” of that message, is almost equally important as every Marshall Mcluhan fan knows, for indeed the medium is the message. (See previous relevant post ) https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/07/marshall-mcluhan-revisited/

So what’s the right setting? We have the townhall meeting format – that’s been tried; we have the primetime televised press conference – that’s been tried; and now we have the late night talk show – chalk up that one.

Last night’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” featured President Obama, and there were a number of “firsts”: First time a sitting president has appeared on a TV Program like The Tonight Show, first time as a sitting president Barack Obama makes an unseemly comment about “special olympics” (more about that later). This is all very serious. What the President’s team is obviously doing is experimenting. I don’t believe this is trial and error – not for a minute. Each “media decision” is carefully considered beforehand and carefully analyzed afterwards.

I reject the notion suggested by some that putting President Obama on late night television is primarily an attempt to pump up poll numbers.

I think ultimately, a combination of “outlets” will emerge that serve the communications strategy at hand.

Is it beneath the dignity of the office of president to appear on a late night talk show, and joke around at that? This is a Twitter and Facebook absorbed society. It is important to put a “human face” on the person who holds the highest office in the land. In fact, because we live in a Twitter and Facebook culture, President Obama needs to establish this kind of closer personal connection with his fellow Americans in order to communicate convincingly – an essential goal in order to move us forward as a nation. In an earlier post I wrote: “What is needed is to re-invent the “fireside chat” circa 2009.” That is what I believe the Obama communications team is attempting to concoct.

On the matter of the gaffe involving “special olympics”, now apologized for, I have personally spent a great deal of energy in community service on behalf of those with disabilities over the years, and I was indeed truly disappointed by the President’s remark. Let’s hope that errant comment will be turned into an opportunity to advance the cause of those with special needs. In any case, we need to move on with this larger “experiment” which is, advancing the State of the Union.

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/20/president-obama-on-late-night-tv/ 

Bookmark and Share

Franklin Roosevelt invents the “fireside chat”

76 years ago today Franklin Roosevelt sat in front of a radio microphone and literally created a new communications “environment”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireside_chats

What I want to point out about the concept of the “fireside chat” as a communications vehicle is directly related to President Obama and the current situation we face as a nation. As “Communicator in Chief” president Obama has to ensure that for the duration of this national morass we are going through, that in all his communication efforts to the general public he essentially utilizes what I will call the “Roosevelt Approach”, so well crafted by FDR, and therefore Obama’s communications advisors – who were seemingly so astute on the campaign trail – need to revisit the rationale for the success of the fireside chat format. In this regard, as important as the content was, the character of the presentation within the framework of the media involved is what needs to be assessed from a communications standpoint. Keep in mind that this took place during the “Golden Age of Radio”; we now are in the “New Age of the Internet”, and I am not so sure that a talking head in front of a camera albeit,  a Presidential talking head – translates that well on a computer screen for the purpose intended, that being hopefully injecting confidence about the future. What is needed is to re-invent the “fireside chat” circa 2009.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/12/franklin-roosevelt-invents-the-fireside-chat/

Bookmark and Share

Marshall McLuhan revisited

We’re going to mention “packaging” a lot, “The manner in which something, such as a proposal or product, or someone, such as a candidate or author, is presented to the public.” (from answers.com) with emphasis on what should be considered in trying to appeal to the INTENDED audience, which it often turns out is not necessarily what appeals (appearance-wise or otherwise) to the one generating the communication; this determination – what is it that most probably will appeal to the intended audience –  should be the first order of business in calculating a communications approach in all cases;  I would strongly urge that anyone striving to be an effective communicator start with Marshall McLuhan, if you haven’t already, because his conception of communications  is one of the pillars upon which all effective communications strategy should be based.

For example McLuhan said: “People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” Here’s another one, after the manner of McLuhan: People don’t actually read blogs. They jump on them coming and going like a bullet train.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/07/marshall-mcluhan-revisited/

Bookmark and Share

Paul Harvey, media icon

This blog comes to life at the same time as the death of an American communications icon. Paul Harvey has died.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/28/paul-harvey-dies-aged-90_n_170807.html

I am saddened. Another American Voice/Voice of America has been taken from us. His dulcet tones invoking “the rest of the story” ring in my ears. He was an innovative pioneer of what in retrospect presages the blog – as podcast, but broadcast over the radio airwaves, the established media of the day. Politically I might not always have concurred with his thinking, but his manner of presentation, his style, his ability to succinctly communicate ideas needs to be studied and emulated.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/02/28/paul-harvey-media-icon/

Bookmark and Share

%d bloggers like this: