Frank Strategies: The Blog


White House Unveils “Open for Questions” Website, Video
March 25, 2009, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Economy, Obama, Online Video, Staging, Transparency

You may have missed this in all the coverage of the President’s news conference, but last night the White House unveiled a new “Open for Questions” feature, similar to what they did during the transition at the Change.gov website.

The effort was announced in a web video featuring President Obama, who encourages viewers to submit questions online – either as text or as a videotaped question – then come back for an online Town Hall meeting with him on Thursday, where he’ll answer some of the questions.

Smart, smart stuff. Dammit. Of course, as I’ve lamented before, it’s beyond me why every GOP Member of Congress isn’t soliciting feedback online from their constituents, then answering a few of the letters and e-mails on YouTube every week or two.

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Video: The Great Obama Victory Plate Crash of 2009
March 24, 2009, 8:28 am
Filed under: Economy, Obama, Online Video, Shameless Self Promotion

Yes, the stock markets may be up recently, but as I’ve visited my friendly neighborhood Walgreens over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that at least one market has crashed hard: the vaunted Obama Victory Plate.

The Obama Victory Plate, like the President himself, peaked in January. Within a month, the Plate had fallen from its high of $19.99 to a mere $10.49. Now it’s all the way down to $5.19!

Which, of course, means it’s time for us hard-working taxpayers to bail out all those Obama fans who invested their life savings in the Victory Plate market. In the meantime, behold the Great Obama Victory Plate Crash of 2009:



Video: Former Union Organizer Shares Tricks of the Trade
March 23, 2009, 9:18 am
Filed under: Card Check, Unions / Labor | Tags: , , ,

If you’re at all interested in the card check / EFCA debate, you should check out this must-see video over at the Heritage Foundation’s Insider Online site.

In the video, former union organizer Rian Wathen exposes some of the secret tricks that he and his colleagues used to get workers to sign cards in support of unionization. Interestingly, Wathen goes beyond the intimidation line we’ve heard a lot about; in the video he also explains how the one mandatory sentence calling for unionization can be hidden or camouflaged in the middle of a lot of other unrelated and innocuous text:

“The card can have any language on it, as long as it has one line on it, which is the suggested language from the National Labor Relations Board that says ‘I hereby authorize what ever the union is to represent me for the purposes of collective bargaining.”

Wathen goes on to display a creative unionization card that SEIU has been using in California:

“It’s a color pamphlet, and it has real nice pictures on the front, and it has a bunch of fluff about SEIU and how you’re going to get better wages and benefits and all this wonderful stuff. Buried in the middle of the paragraph on that front is the line about how you authorize SEIU to represent you for purposes of collective bargaining… But most interestingly about this card, is the inside of the card – it’s just a line of signatures – put your name, put your address, put your phone number. I don’t see anything on that page on the inside of the pamphlet that says ‘I authorize SEIU to represent me for the purposes of collective bargaining. So I have this pamphlet, I’m a union organizer, I hold a meeting at the local pizza joint where I’m buying pizza and beer, and I lay this down on the table like this and say, “Here… sign in here on our sign-in sheet. Right? Not against the law. This is the card that they’re using right now in California.”

Wathen describes several other methods of manipulation — check out the entire video here.



A Communications Hit (and a Miss) For Hill Republicans
March 20, 2009, 9:50 am
Filed under: Obama, Republican Party, Staging

First, the good news: this morning’s Washington Times reports that Hill Republicans now have 8 of the top 10 Congressional channels on YouTube:

“House Minority Leader John A. Boehner – whose floor speech against the stimulus bill is the third-most-popular congressional video with 467,454 views – has encouraged Republicans to think of themselves as “entrepreneurial insurgents” reaching out to the American people.

“Given that we are in the minority in the House, we need to think of ourselves not primarily as legislators, but as communicators, and we need to use every tool available to communicate our better solutions to the problems facing our nation,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner.”

In an age when another daily newspaper goes out of print nearly every week and the mainstream media is increasingly irrelevant, this is a very good sign – attributable in part to the added grassroots energy that’s resulting from Obama’s overreach on spending, but also attributable to many Hill Republicans adapting to new technology and new communications venues.

Unfortunately, I don’t think all the communications news this week has been good for the GOP, due to some on the Hill who have publicly griped that President Obama shouldn’t (a) fill out March Madness brackets or (b) go on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

I hope the GOP gets off this communications track in a hurry. There are plenty of sound criticisms of Obama’s policies without having to look like a bunch of grumpy old men yelling at the young whippersnapper to get out of their front yard. Part of any President’s job – especially in challenging times – is to reassure the American people that things are going to be ok.

And when Republican Senators complain that Obama took a few minutes to fill out his brackets on ESPN, what message does that send to Joe Six Pack, who’s struggling to make ends meet, stay in his house, and keep his family together – but who also takes a few minutes to fill out his brackets? That it’s impossible to rise to the challenges of the day and to also have a little fun at the same time? Or that it’s wrong to try?

The same goes for the Leno appearance. What exactly is Obama supposed to do – stay hunkered down in the Oval Office and only talk with reporters for the Washington Post and New York Times? It’s not like he went on the Jerry Springer Show with a bunch of transvestite hookers. When exactly did Jay Leno become such a controversial communications venue and when did smiling and telling a joke every now and then become a political liability?

Fact is going on Leno or filling out March Madness brackets is exactly the kind of thing that Reagan would have done in his day to get his message and persona out to the American people. And the Democrats back then would have probably howled in protest, mainly out of sheer envy that they couldn’t connect with the American people as effectively. And they would have looked very small and petty. Just like some Republicans did this week.



New Inspirational Posters
March 19, 2009, 11:50 am
Filed under: Card Check, Unions / Labor | Tags: , , , ,

Inspired (if that’s the right word) by Time magazine’s photo essay featuring the ruins of Detroit, I put together a few mock inspirational posters for the upcoming debate on the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. Enjoy:

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For larger versions of these posters, e-mail me here.



The Politico on Online Video
March 17, 2009, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Online Video

The Politico has a good piece in this morning’s paper worth checking out re: how different Members of Congress are using YouTube these days.

The reporter seems to come to many of the same conclusions I have about what works and what doesn’t for online video…

DO: Invest in a modest amount of production, make it interesting, and ask for / respond to feedback.

DON’T: Try too hard to show that you “get it,” just post your C-Span clips, or be boring. (Those last two may be redundant, I realize.)

I still think most Members of Congress should be answering a few constituent letters via online video every week or two – not sure why almost none have even tried it yet.



Would Union Bosses Resort to Intimidation? Watch This Video and Decide For Yourself.
March 17, 2009, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Card Check, Online Video, Unions / Labor | Tags: , , , ,

Throughout the card check debate, union bosses have bristled at the notion that organizers intimidate workers into signing cards in support of unionization.  “Us, intimidate workers?” they ask with cat-that-ate-the-canary grins.

Not sure who to believe?  Just take a look at the disgusting video below, in which the SEIU attempts to tie the horrible death of an industrial worker to U.S. Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, one of the few House Democrats who have voiced concerns about the bill.

This video is a clear signal not just to Boren, but to every other Member of Congress who has concerns about the so-called Employee Free Choice Act.  Some would call the  video an intimidation tactic, but you be the judge.  Watch the video below… then ask yourself if union bosses would ever resort to intimidation…