Lunchtime Links: A Super-Sized State of the Union

The biggest event on President Obama's calendar isn't limited to a two-hour speech anymore. Check out the ways the White House is using social media to stretch the State of the Union's reach.

The biggest event on President Obama’s calendar isn’t limited to a two-hour speech anymore. Check out the ways the White House is using social media to stretch the State of the Union’s reach.

Just as the Super Bowl is no longer just a game, the State of the Union is no longer just a speech. It’s an event.

And the Obama administration—which has often drawn plaudits for its effective use of social media—is doing far more than simply having the president deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. The White House has a series of events lined up this week to extend the SOTU’s reach beyond Tuesday night.

Those plans for super-sizing one of the federal government’s highest-profile events of the year also could be a great source of inspiration, event planners, so read up:

Second screening and history collide: One of the Obama White House’s most popular virtual efforts has been its annotated State of the Union address, which augments the president’s statements with graphics and data points to help clarify a speech that often covers a lot of ground over a fairly short period of time. (Click here to visit the White House site this evening to get an idea of what we’re talking about.) With that in mind, the administration created a fun video (above) imagining what it would be like if other presidents had been able to take advantage of the enhanced format. It’s an entertaining little what-if.

Cheese ’round the block: On Wednesday, the Obama administration will give a nod to the administration of Andrew Jackson—by way of The West Wing—by hosting a virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day.” Senior Obama administration officials will take questions from everyday Americans on all of its major online platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. What’s up with the name? Well, it references an event during the Jackson administration. The president, who was nearing the end of his term and stuck with a massive (as in nearly three-quarters of a ton) block of cheese given to him by a dairy farmer, decided to hold a reception at the White House and share the cheese with members of the general public. The strategy worked in some ways. By the end of the day, the cheese was gone—but not its smell. And it apparently smelled really bad. Which is why we should perhaps be grateful that the Obama administration chose to hold this event online.

On the road again: In another era, if a president wanted to meet with the people, he might take a train cross-country to give the public a little face time. President Obama does plenty of traveling, but thanks to platforms like Google Hangouts, he also can have that face time without leaving Washington. And on Friday, he’s doing just that, holding a “Presidential Hangout Road Trip.” The president’s already taking questions on Google+ and YouTube—well, as long as you hashtag it #AskObama2014.

Think there’s room to borrow from some of the White House’s big event ideas? Offer your take in the comments below.

(Lawrence Jackson/Official White House Photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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