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Obamacare Struggles Make for a Perfect Communications Case Study

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If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got somewhere else to be…

You may be shocked to learn that Politico posted something interesting today. Inflammatory “PR firms cash in on health rollout woes” headline aside, the story makes a good point: the Affordable Care Act launch is a perfect encapsulation of the challenges facing communicators in the digital era.

Multiple firms have capitalized on this fact by turning it into a case study; the myriad lessons are obvious after the jump.

  • Test your tech before launch
  • Explain the benefits of your product in the simplest possible way (hello, infographics)
  • Appoint an official “public face” for your campaign and insist that he or she address the public directly
  • Speaking to the previous point, repeatedly remind everyone why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place
  • Choose a message that will remain consistent throughout the life of the campaign
  • Tailor that messaging to allow for some varied outcomes
  • Make sure you have positive stories on hand to counter any negative spin
  • Own and address your mistakes immediately rather than playing them down

While we can’t say that “more press conferences” would have solved the problem, we have to agree with Liz Wainger of Wainger Group in concluding that an apparent disconnect between the White House team and the product itself was and continues to be a big issue.

We find it fascinating that the office of President Obama, a man well-known as a brilliant writer and speaker, would prove so frustratingly ineffective in the communications department. We look forward to reading synopses of the many books destined to be written on this topic.

Oh, and we’re still not sure what Politico meant in asserting that firms are “cashing in”, unless that’s another way of saying they volunteered to interview with Politico.

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