Hillary’s “Conversation” Video v. Obama’s Youtube Approach

So, the word went out today, Hillary’s starting her “conversation.” “Let’s talk, let’s chat lets start a dialogue,” she says. (The word “conversation;” is used six times in her “I’m in” text that accompanies the video announcement. [update: The text seems to differ in a couple of ways from the video.])

The campaign blog (edited by Peter Daou, I assume) doesn’t have any content yet, other than a vow that it will be “a crucial part of our exciting national conversation” and an invitation to submit, but not post, comments that could be selected as the blog’s first entry.

We want to give you the first word…If you’d like to write the very first guest post on the HillaryClinton.com blog, submit your entry in the form below. And if you already have your own blog or other website, please post your entry there and let us know about it. We’ll select one entry as the first guest post on our blog.

I imagine that the blog, under the direction of Daou or other smart web thinkers, will incorporate tools of interactivity that will enable a true conversation between the campaign and the rest of us. (Obama’s campaign site, on the other hand, does not yet have a blog, though he does have a Facebook page.)

[Update2: Jerome Armstrong at MyDD has odd praise for an Hillary outeach tactic:

as blogger savvy as John Edwards was in outreach, Clinton internet team had the email's of bloggers to notify them separate from the press (no such outreach from the Obama camp).

Targeting email to select big time bloggers such as Jerome sees more traditional media than open media-- but maybe I've just been reading too many of Seth Finkelstein's criticisms of the the formation of a blogging elite.]

Can we learn anything about the (apparent) candidates by comparing the two announcement videos– and ignoring what they’re saying? The Obama video, tinny sound and all, has no cuts or camera movement– it’s composed of a straight-ahead shot of the tie-less candidate, with a blurry painting over his right shoulder. Lots of hand gestures. Clinton’s video, by comparison, is edited, there are three cuts. Leaning on a sofa pillow, both her facial and hand gestures are more animated than Obama’s. Most notably, there’s lots of camera movement; first she’s on the left, then, the right, then the left again. The sound is fine, though the mute button doesn’t work and the volume control won’t go all the way down.

[Update: Mark Finkelstein takes a closer look at the video's scenary:

Look out the door. Presumably the announcement was shot in one of Hillary's homes: Chappaqua or Georgetown. Now I know it's been a mild winter, but even so, surely the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in either spot. And check out the yellow spot in the bushes. At first I thought it was just a warm dapple of sunshine. But freeze the frame when, about 1/4 of the way through, Hillary says "how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security." That's not sunshine -- those are flowers in bloom. ..So, what's the story? Did Hillary have this video in the can during all those months while she was claiming to be making up her mind? Was it a carefully staged artificial background?]

[Update 3: Todd Zeigler is less skeptical about Hillary's "conversation" spin. On her blog strategy, he says:

If it works, Clinton will get a bunch of bloggers writing lover letters to her on their own sites in an effort to win the contest. How viral. Not sure many political bloggers will take the bait though.

Dave Weinberger sounds a bit more skeptical:

Political campaigns are perhaps the most corrosive of genuine conversations because campaigns make run-of-the-mill control freaks look like drunken libertines. Their idea of a great conversation is generally the sort of Bush town hall meeting where citizens are frisked for ideas before entering. The best hope for a conversational campaign is one that brings supporters together and then gets out of the way. But campaigns want to be at the center of every conversation.]

The Obama folks let the video flow, reportedly starting up a Brightcove channel and allowing it to spread freely. Surprisingly, perhaps, Jeff Jarvis doesn’t like that latter approach:

That’s not as smart; it splinters the rank-and-file. What we saw in the Dean campaign is that they want to gather in one place and talk and conspire (and date, too).

[Update 4: Hmm, maybe I misunderstood Jarvis; in his look at the Hillary video, he criticizes her campaign for not making the video more sharable:

Foolishly, though, the Clinton campaign doesn’t make her video available as an embeddable player, nor can I find it on YouTube. Somebody better give her advice about how to play in the open video world.]

For more Obama coverage, check out Archpundit , this earlier post, and Steve Rhodes’ piece The Trouble With Obama:

I’m not anti-Obama…but I’m against hype, and particularly media hype, and that’s what’s going on….Can anyone tell us what Obama’s top three issues are? Not really.

[Update 5: Bashx001 sets up a side-by-side comparison of the two videos.]

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6 thoughts on “Hillary’s “Conversation” Video v. Obama’s Youtube Approach

  1. “but maybe I’ve just been reading too many of Seth Finkelstein’s criticisms of the the formation of a blogging elite.”

    Somebody has read me! Somebody has read me! l’ve not quite merely shouted to the wind … ( :-) … I think).

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