Change and More of the Same: New Media Communications Strategies in President Obama's First 100 Days

Laurie L. Rice, Andrew F. Sarver


Developments in communications technology offer presidents new opportunities for winning public support for themselves and their policies.  President Obama became the first president in the internet era to integrate blogs and weekly web addresses into his regular communications strategy, developing a new media communications team. But did the new communications forms translate into new strategies or did they simply serve as additional venues for spreading traditional messages?  In this article, we examine President Obama's media strategy during his First 100 Days.  This is typically a time of capitalizing on popularity to accomplish goals as well as reaching out to a broader audience than just those who voted the president into office.  We examine the content of White House blog entries and weekly web addresses posted during this time and identify three major communications strategies and themes contained within them: building unity, recasting ideological principles and debates, and contextualizing expectations.  We then compare these to themes raised in two more traditional forms of presidential communication also employed during Obama’s First 100 Days: radio addresses and press briefings.  We find that not only are the same themes prevalent in both new media and traditional forms of communication, they also largely reflect conventional goals and communication themes of previous presidents.  The methods of spreading messages changed but the main strategies within them remained largely the same.   Time will tell whether this pioneering in communications use will later translate into the development of new strategies for presidential success.


presidential communication; new media; First 100 Days

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