Twist Of Fate: Government Demonstrates How Businesses Should Operate

Official Portrait Of President Barack Obama

Why can’t governments operate more like businesses? In a twist of fate, the White House now is demonstrating how businesses should operate. Including online.

This was evidenced, perhaps more than anywhere else, at 12:01 p.m. during the Presidential inauguration, at Yes, the White House now has a blog! I subscribed to in my Google reader. Did you?

Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House, explained: “Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement. Just like your new government, and the rest of the Administration’s online programs will put citizens first.”

Phillips detailed three priorities:

Communication – “Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.”

Transparency – “President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.”

Participation – “President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the Internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.”

Community. Transparency. Participation. In these times of great institutional distrust, pessimism and drifting purpose, those are the core tenets of advantage and progress. They’re critical for government and equally as much for business. It’s how you create and engage citizens as well as customers.

And those tenets are especially relevant to our business of marketing and media. Which begs the question: Why are they so often blatantly absent from all the products these industries manufacture? I can’t figure it out.

But Obama? Indeed, it’s too early to celebrate. We’ll have to wait and see how — or if —the President delivers on his promises, including his new-media commitments. But I can assure you one thing: He’s at least launched on the right foot, embracing the openness and potential of the Internet. He’s demonstrating, so far, the right way to set up an organization, treat his customers, and use the Internet to enhance relationships.

What do you think?

(This also was my column this week in MediaPost.)

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Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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