The Power of Leaking
The Deliberate Leak
"Public relations is the business of letting people in on what you are doing." —Evelyn Lawson
Evenly Lawson was a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer and theatrical publicist. She was my first and only teacher of public relations and publicity when, at age 15, I was an apprentice at the Ivoryton, Connecticut summer playhouse in 1950.
In mid-January 2015, the Obama White House followed Evelyn's definition by breaking an old rule. Said the White House press office:
There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President's speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can't report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.
This year we change that.
For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech. —White House News Release
It was a political masterstroke. From the beginning of his presidency Barack Obama had taken a whupping by the opposition. Finally, Republicans gained majorities in the House, Senate and had 29 state governorships in the 2014 election.