The fact that Barack Obama will soon be taking the oath of office to become our new President may be proof that he needs no marketing advice from me. After all, he just completed the biggest sale of all, convincing the American public to hand over their votes.
But I urge President Obama not to abandon many of the marketing techniques that served him well during his campaign for office. Once inside The White House, he may be tempted to circle the wagons and work on his agenda in isolation, insulated from the pesky media and their clients, the people who elected him. This is exactly what Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick did, and it has cost him dearly.
Gov. Patrick, the first African-American Governor elected in the Bay State, campaigned on a platform of reform and openness, promising to free the state from the tight grip of career politicians and the corrupt "in crowd" that surrounded them. He was duly elected and sworn in.
Then, for all intents and purposes, Gov. Patrick disappeared. For the first several months of his term he was seldom seen or heard. No doubt he was busy tackling the enormous job of governing the state. But he should have let the rest of us know what he was doing. The political capital of goodwill and optimism he built up during his campaign quickly evaporated, and many people began to suspect he was "just another politician."
To his credit, Gov. Patrick has worked hard to emerge from his self-induced isolation and has been much more open and accessible as he tackles the challenges brought about by the recession. (Some of his proposals even make sense to this conservative scribe.)
President Obama can learn a lesson from this. During his campaign he was very open and available, and even seemed willing to address controversial topics. His campaign was ground breaking in its use of new media and technologies to reach out to voters.
Now that he is in office, the President needs to keep the channels of communications open, and his activities as transparent as is practical. The American people don't need a "White House wizard" pulling levers behind a curtain. Instead, we want a leader who is not afraid to show us the direction in which he is leading us.