16 Content Marketing Lessons From the State of the Union Address

by Marie Weber


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By: Marie Weber
If you watched the State of the Union (SOTU) address online this week, you may have noticed there was an option for watching an enhanced version of the speech. As a content marketer I thought this was a nice feature, but I was more impressed by how the administration really leveraged the SOTU this year. Here are some lessons from the SOTU to apply to your own marketing campaigns.

Now, before we get started I will ask you to put your political views aside. For those of you who don’t have a love affair with our current President, let’s just focus on effective content marketing techniques — not politics!

  1. Video: This may go without saying but when you are presenting, training, or giving a speech for your business; have it video taped, post the video on YouTube, and embed the video on your site.
  2. Photos: Even if you are having your presentation taped, don’t forget to take photos. These photos can be used on your site, or they can be made into a slideshow. Also, try to get photos before, during, and after. One of the most popular pictures from the SOTU, where Barack Obama hugged Gabrielle Giffords, happened before the speech.

    President Barak Obama hugs Gabby Giffords

  3. Transcript: If you are going to put together a presentation or speech, get it transcribed.  This gives people who do not have time to watch your video a chance to consume your content faster (especially if they are skimming). The transcript is also important for the search engines so they can index your content more efficiently.
  4. SlideShare: Take any supporting slides, charts, graphs, and imagery.  Turn that into a SlideShare presentation.
  5. Action Items/PDF downloads: Now that you have presented all of the wonderful information, help make it actionable.  For the SOTU, the White House put together an 8 page PDF outlining the Blueprint for America, a summary of the policies outlined in the speech. Granted I think this could have been made clearer by including the actual action items President Obama said he was going to do, vs the ones he needed congress to pass a bill for, but you can see how this format helps outline and highlight the main points of the speech. For your situation, consider providing a resource list, case study, check list, or action items.
  6. Get Social: Get participants/viewers to connect with you. The White House took questions on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  They also are setting up a Google+ Hangout for Jan. 30th. They are encouraging people to use the hashtags #SOTU and #WHChat and have multiple twitter accounts (@Whitehouse, @VP, and @gov).  Include this type of information in your presentation so people know how to promote your event, connect with you, and share ideas and feedback.
  7. Go behind the scenes: I personally am a huge fan of watching special features (my husband considers it one of my hobbies) so when the White House put together a quick video [less than 5 minutes] going behind the scenes, I was excited. I realize I am probably one of the few people that actually seeks out special features. But for the really curious in your fan base — the people who like extra information, enjoy research, or just find you really interesting — they will appreciate the extra effort.
  8. Go mobile: Did you know the White House has an app (for both iPhone and Android)? Did you know you could have watched the SOTU from your smartphone?  If not, now you do.
  9. Leverage what you already have: Leading up to the SOTU, the White House was showing videos from the previous 12 months — a year in review if you will. This was all content that they already had that they organized and curated to highlight events, holidays, and memories. Consider how you can add related videos, or posts to your content (usually pretty easy to accomplish with plug-ins). Or instead of silence before your next webinar – consider showing highlights from other presentations you have done.
  10. Make it interactive: This is how you could see who was sitting in the First Lady’s Box at the SOTU. This interactive feature was an efficient use of space, linked to more information about each guest. This brings me to my next point …
  11. Make it personal: When you can understand who some of the people are, and why you are seeing them at the SOTU, it makes it more personal. You feel more connected and invested in what is going on. How can you personalize your staff introductions, events or other “about us” content?
  12. Blog – Before, During, and After: While this might sound counter intuitive (“How can I be blogging during if I am giving a presentation?”), the ability to schedule content ahead of time means you can literally be giving a presentation at the same time WordPress (or any other solid platform) is publishing your latest blog post (and HootSuite is tweeting your scheduled post.) While the SOTU did not actually have any blog posts during the presentation, there were 6 blog posts leading up to the speech and so far 7 blog posts related to the SOTU after the event.
  13. Make sure you have a clear call to action: Read, Learn, Find, Understand, Connect, Ask, Watch, Join, Submit (questions/information), Download, Share, Like, Email, Tweet, Hangout, Check out, See, Follow, Subscribe, Call, Click.  Get the idea? Obviously there are a lot of different calls to actions, but fortunately with social media plug-ins many of these can be easily managed.
  14. Build an email list: Yes, one of those calls to action is to join the email list.
  15. Make the information easy to understand & anticipate your audience needs: This one is a little more complex, and really takes getting out of your own way to think about what questions your audience is going to have. For the SOTU it could be, “Did anything really get accomplished over the last year?” The White House addressed this with 19 “Signs of Progress in 2011″ and links to the We Can’t Wait landing page. Which brings me to…
  16. Infographics: While I have not seen any infographics for the SOTU yet, if you go to some of the other landing pages on whitehouse.org you can find infographics. Considering how powerful infographics can be, this may be one area where whitehouse.org can expand their content in the future.  However, whitehouse.org has also been good about providing a quick fact (basically a slide from a presentation) to go along with a landing page, action item, or blog post. So the next time you are trying to find an image to go with content on your site, consider looking at some of the presentations and infographics you have already put together.

As you can see from the list above, the SOTU was not just one event. The President’s administration looked at ways to leverage the event and create multiple pieces of content that had a variety of uses. A great example of content creation, distribution, and repurposing.

Your Turn

What other conferences or presentations have you seen that do a good job of leveraging their content before, during and after the event?

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Marie Weber

Marie brings a deep understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Content Planning, Social Media and Web Analytics to the Well Planned Web team. Whether she’s providing direct consultation for clients or working behind the scenes, Marie always provides fresh, strategic insights. She's also a terrific ballroom dancer (something that runs in the Well Planned Web family!)

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