Shailagh Murray on “Reinventing Political Communications”

Murray's seminars will be held on April 4, 11, and 18 at 12pm. All seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


These seminars will chart how the White House transformed its approach to communicating with the American people, bringing to life in new and creative ways the Obama presidency and its impact on American life. 

Session 1 (April 4): Taming the Social Media Beast | RSVP

This session will track of the dawn of the social media age, which happened in real time during the Obama presidency. We’ll look at choices we made about how to engage; the opportunities social media presented as a shiny new set of communications tools; and the challenges and limitations we discovered along the way. We will endeavor to understand how social media took an ugly turn in the past two years, increasingly becoming a conduit for political attacks and fake news.

Guest Speaker: Lindsay Holst (former Director of Digital Content at the White House, 2013-2016)

Session 2 (April 11): Policy in Prime Time | RSVP

For years, the White House relied on the same tired playbook to sell policy stories: fact sheets, background briefings, op-eds, Oval Office photo-ops. For all the effort, we got little reward: Traditional Washington newsrooms mostly ignore substance in favor on conflict. So we looked beyond the briefing room and found a gold mine of new partners like HBO/Vice, National Geographic, and adventurer-celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Bear Grylls. This session will feature a case study of the acclaimed HBO/Vice documentary about President Obama’s trip to a federal prison.

Guest Speaker: Alex Detrick (Vice Communications Director & chief collaborator on four White House/VICE documentary projects)

Session 3 (April 18): Beyond the Podium | RSVP

It’s challenging once a president takes office to keep him connected with the American people. Network interviews tend to be overly formal and driven by the news of the day. Off campus forays, to a Starbucks or sandwich shop, are painfully contrived. Meanwhile, the human side fades from public view. Reintroducing Americans to Barack Obama the man – an older, wiser version of the phenom they met in 2004 -- was one of our primary goals for the last two years of his presidency. We’ll explore the communications tools we used to do that, primarily non-traditional interviews.

Guest Speaker: Award-winning writer Jeanne Marie Laskas (author of two standout magazine stories about Vice President Biden and President Obama)