Like many Americans, I watched President Barack Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last week. I also watched his interview with “60 Minutes” this past Sunday, checked out his NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament picks on ESPN.com last week and listened to his press conference on Tuesday night. Over the past week, the President has been here, there and seemingly everywhere. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
My dyed-in-the-wool liberal girlfriend – the one with an Obama/Biden sticker on her car and the one who volunteered for the President’s campaign – said it best when she turned to me with an annoyed look on her face and opined, “Doesn’t [the President] have more important things to be doing?”
Most people will say that they want the President to be visible and I won’t argue that point. There’s a difference, however, between being visible and being overexposed. President Obama’s recent media tour is a case of the latter.
As evidenced by his distraction-inducing “gaffe” on Jay Leno’s program and the quasi-controversy surrounding his choice of questioners during his press conference, President Obama’s overexposure led to mistakes that he would not normally make. The joke he made on Leno’s show was undoubtedly in poor taste, but it’s not surprising because the President is not accustomed to such a loose interview style. President Obama is an expert orator, but the give-and-take of an entertainment interview is radically different than giving a speech or answering questions from constituents. Talking points are thrown out the window and replaced by an urge to be humorous or charming.
Over the years, the loudest complaints I’ve heard regarding overexposure have come from employees and investors. They get annoyed when a CEO spends too much time on television either promoting himself or defending a company. They view the media exposure as a distraction and worry when a CEO is seemingly more infatuated with racking up video clips than running a company.
Entertainers can also be overexposed when promoting a movie, television show, album, tour, play or other endeavor. All the media attention sets the performance bar high and as we’ve seen with many heavily promoted flops the backlash can be intense.
When planning a media tour, it’s important to hit media outlets that are not only targeting your audience, but also provide the proper platform. As always, you want to be able to control the message and put your media star in an environment where it’s easy to succeed and difficult to fail. I know from my own experience that going out of my comfort zone does not pay dividends and can lead to trouble.
I’m happy that President Obama is more open to engaging the media than some of his predecessors. However, there comes a point when you’ve said all that you can say and saying anything more simply obscures the issues. It’s very early in his term – he’s a new CEO coming in to clean up a mess – and the President should be concentrating on the task at hand. The positive media coverage will come when the job has been accomplished.
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.