Thursday, April 03, 2014

Close hold: Speeches & talking points getting caught on camera

It's one of the most closely held documents in Washington: The president's annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress. Oh, plenty of groups and individuals are consulted and asked for their input. But when it comes to the words on the page, they're intended as a surprise. That's why, when the White House used Instagram to take viewers behind the scenes of preparation for the speech, the words on the page were intentionally blurred.

That wasn't the case for two other highly visible public officials elsewhere in the world, who carried confidential documents out in the open and found that the cameras picked up not just the pages in their hands, but the writing on them. They put the documents out in the open without thinking about the technological capacity to zoom, resize and publish the contents. Just this month alone, two prominent examples have occurred in England and France:
Don't get caught, indeed. Whatever happened to putting that text in an old-school file folder, kids? Maybe a cover sheet or title page? The Guardian article notes a freelance photographer in London who specializes in taking photos of documents being toted into No. 10 Downing Street, and details other examples in recent years.

What are you doing, communicators, to make sure your principal spokesperson isn't flashing the facts around in advance--and that her prepared statement matches the memos she's brandishing in public?

(White House photo)

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