Robert Gibbs recently held his first press conference as the new press secretary for the White House. The PR student in me listened intently to this man, wondering how he will adapt this traditional government role to an aggressively innovative administration.
Adapting to a Technologically Conscious White House
Similar to many government press secretaries, Gibbs has a strong background in traditional media relations, but how will he integrate his established skill set to a role that will probably heavily rely on new technology? Though his role in the White House focuses on interacting with print and broadcast outlets, his involvement with the Obama campaign most likely showed him the importance online communications will play in this administrations’ daily activities.
I hope Gibbs will reach out to bloggers and online news sites for press conferences, interviews, and other events. He should also maintain a prominent presence on change.gov and the interactive new whitehouse.gov. Bridging this gap between the president and citizens while providing access to variety of journalists will be difficult and time-consuming, but it is necessary to maintain the level of transparency Obama’s team keeps stressing.
Keeping Up with the President
While serving as press secretary for someone as savvy as Barack Obama, Gibbs is going to have to be aware of the precise action a transparent government demands from the official spokesperson. That’s why it surprised me to discover Gibbs already slipped up this month when he avoided answering the most popular user-submitted question on Change.gov, forcing the President to answer it on live television. As Nisha Chittal points out, aides can’t practice “politics as usual” in the Obama administration. I hope Gibbs will learn from his mistake, and will practice the type of transparency Americans are now demanding from their government.
So, as President Obama receives immense praise for the actions he took during his first week in office, how do you think Robert Gibbs has done as the new press secretary? Do you think he will continue practicing politics as usual, or will he match the standards set by his administration?