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  • Fantastic. Look at that. Stunning. That's lovely, tipping your head like that. Look

  • at that. Fantastic. Really cool shot.

  • Technology has impacted American's relationship with government for 240 years. Weve gone

  • from stump speeches given on actual stumps to radio, to television, and now the internet.

  • And things are moving faster than ever: when Barack Obama took office in 2008, he was proudly

  • known as the firstBlackBerry president.” But that BlackBerry isn’t exactly proof

  • of being tech savvy anymore. His administration has had to rapidly embrace platforms like

  • Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The public is more engaged with government in more ways

  • than ever before.

  • But its Michelle Obama whose taken it even farther. With her initiatives aimed specifically

  • at young people, she’s pursued even newer tools like Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, and

  • Periscope. The First Lady’s office has stood at the forefront of the changes the White

  • House has faced online, while still balancing her strategy with a unique authenticity. Somehow,

  • Michelle Obama is a politician who’s remained cool.

  • We had the chance to speak with Michelle and her communications director Caroline Adler

  • about how they pulled that off.

  • Nilay: So, in less than a decade, it's been an enormous amount of change, how did you

  • think about handling that change, why did you decide to so aggressively embrace social

  • media?

  • FLOTUS: If you think about the campaign, this Presidency, we were always striving to be

  • cutting edge nowadays, this generation, they're not watching nightly news, they're not reading

  • the newspapers, they're not watching the Sunday morning shows, they're on their phones. So

  • we had to start thinking of creative and fun ways to connect with those folks. Because

  • what we understood was this generation, they're looking for authenticity, they're looking

  • for what feels real and natural, so I knew that my issues had to be real and natural

  • to me if I was going to be anyway compelling to the audiences that we were trying to reach.

  • So that’s been refreshing. so people can get to know me directly. they can see that

  • im kinda silly some times, that i care, they can feel the passion. they don’t have to

  • have that filtered through another source. And young people, in particular, like that.

  • It’s true. In so much of what Michelle does online, she seems authentic and natural. It

  • could be her dunking on the Miami Heat with Lebron James. Or hanging out with a few Vine

  • superstars. Or rapping with Jay Pharoah. In each of these, it feels like she’s having

  • fun.

  • But behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into what she says and and what platforms

  • she uses to say it. The First Lady has four initiatives she and her team promote. Each

  • requires a different approach to find the right audience on the right platform. So something

  • as simple as turning up with a turnip takes a lot of planning.

  • Nilay: When you are planning to do something on Vine, when you're planning to do something

  • on Instagram, how does that idea come up, how did Turnip For What happen? Walk me through

  • that.

  • FLOTUS: The beauty is, I'm surround by a lot of millennials, so I usually get ideas from

  • my team.

  • Caroline Adler: And it's often about, what is the the strategic priority, what is the

  • strategic goal that we want to achieve. So each of the First Lady's four initiatives:

  • Let's Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher, and Let Girls Learn, each have a goal, and

  • they have a different audience, and when we're looking at our goal for each initiative, at

  • a certain time, we wonder, "Well, what's the platform that will serve us best?" So, for

  • Turnip For What. So that was actually a product of the First Lady's first Vine Q&A.

  • Vine: Hey its Michelle Obama I'm excited to answer your questions.

  • Question: Mrs. Obama, what's your favorite fall veggie?

  • FLOTUS: My favorite fall vegetable is a sweet potato.

  • Question: My name is Jordon, How do you get kids to work out when they don't want to?

  • FLOTUS: I remind kids that working out is just like playing.

  • Question: On average, how many calories do you burn every time you Turn Up?

  • FLOTUS: Turnip for what? *music*

  • You know, we want to make healthy eating and active kids part of the conversation.

  • And it was all because we started out wanting to have a conversation on platforms where

  • our audience lived. So that was Vine.

  • Nilay: So who had that idea? Was that your idea? Was that the President's idea? Did Lil

  • Jon call you? FLOTUS: No, noone of our team, you know.

  • And it helped that, what helps with me and the President is that we're connected enough

  • to pop culture that I know who Lil Jon is, I know the song, my kids are singing it, so

  • when somebody says "Why don't we do Turnip For What?" I get it immediately, and I was

  • like "OK, that could be cute".

  • Nilay: One thing that strikes me about all of this, which I think is fascinating is that

  • the tools that you use to create the media are the same tools that the public is now

  • using to both consume what you create and also to create their own media, they're intimately

  • familiar with how to use Snapchat, they're intimately familiar with how to use Instagram.

  • I think that's really changed the nature of the communication, and I think it's changed

  • the nature of politics. Do you see that, has it changed how you approach being First Lady

  • at all?

  • FLOTUS: What we learned is that we have to be nimble. You can't sort of be stuck in the

  • way things we done or the way we did things even in the first term, because the social

  • media platforms are ever changing and you've gotta be ready to move and shift with them.

  • My whole goal, the question that I ask myself, that our team, we ask ourselves, is "What's

  • gonna work? What's gonna move the needle, what's gonna change the conversation" because

  • what we talked about even coming in is that we don't want to be an administration, a Presidency

  • that's just into meaningless slogans. We want to do things that are actually going to change

  • people's lives, and the only way to do that is to constantly make those shifts so that

  • the message is getting directly to the people you're trying to reach. And if that means

  • Vine, alright, let's bring some of the VIV'ers in here and lets do some fun stuff with them,

  • if that's what young people are listening to. If we want to get more people into the

  • White House and have them access the people's house, well then let's use virtual videos

  • to open up these tours so that millions of people who can never come and see these rooms

  • have the opportunity to do it. That's the beauty of this administration. We have all

  • these wonderful tools to just open things up more and more, and it's been so much fun

  • doing it. Caroline Adler: One thing I would add is,

  • it's a little known fact, the First Lady's office doesn't have any Congressional authority

  • or any independent funding. FLOTUS: We got nothing.

  • Caroline Adler: We got nothing. Except a great principle.

  • FLOTUS: And a good team. Other than that... Caroline Adler: We want to have impact, we

  • want to open the White House, and you want to move the needle on all of the initiatives,

  • that have become hallmarks of this office, social media is a great opportunity for that,

  • and I think that you'd, I hope you would agree the next people who are here, it expands the

  • office, it expands the impact that you can have without those other resources.

  • But even though there’s so much good to be found online, there’s also a lot of bad.

  • These new platforms can be used for abuse. And the past few years have seen people, particularly

  • woman, people of color, and other underrepresented groups, who suffer the kind of harassment

  • that silences them.

  • It’s something The Verge and I take very seriously. It’s why our parent company Vox

  • Media teamed up with Intel and others to launch #HackHarassment, a way to work with social

  • platforms to safeguard their users from online abuse.

  • Nilay: What do you think platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, can do to stop this problem.

  • FLOTUS: And as a mom, this is one of the things that I worry about, because we were talking

  • about this the other day in the office, it's just, these platforms, not only do you bypass

  • the middle man, but with young people, you can bypass the parent. My kids first connection

  • to social media happened without me involved, because they can get their phones and they

  • can tap into this stuff, and they're using it, before you even know. So the truth is

  • these kids have access at younger and younger ages to these platforms with no real guidelines

  • on how to use it, because that's sort of the point. We want them to get in there and figure

  • it out. But when you're talking about really young kids, they don't know what they're using,

  • it's like giving a twelve year old the keys to the car and going "Just see what happens.

  • Get out there on the road, figure it out." And bad stuff can happen. So one of the things

  • I hope that the social media platforms, all you guys can get together and help teach these

  • kids all the many positive ways that they can use these platforms, because there are

  • so many. Make those positive uses trendier. Get your hottest celebrities and start figuring

  • out different ways that you can use Instagram to highlight good stuff, and that that becomes

  • how these tools are used, and kids will follow those trends.

  • because they will follow trends, they will do what's cool, it's just, you guys have to

  • make the right thing cool. Nilay: Well, you've been helping out a lot,

  • doing cool stuff. FLOTUS: Yeah, we'll keep doing it.

  • Nilay: So you've got one year left: what do you want to accomplish this year, what kind

  • of legacy do you want to leave particularly with communicating with young people?

  • FLOTUS: This platform is so unique. We will never have this again. The White House, this

  • experience, social media allows the country to grow with the White House, we, or the White

  • House to grow with the country. You know, there are constant changes, young people expect

  • and want something different from their leadership. And social media gives us the tools to stay

  • connected and to again, be flexible and to reach people where they need to be reached

  • so they get the messages and understand the policies that we are desperately trying to

  • implement. You can't do it now without this kind of connection.

  • So we're going to spend these 12 months on every single issue, making sure we're driving

  • to the very end.

Fantastic. Look at that. Stunning. That's lovely, tipping your head like that. Look

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Michelle Obama 360

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    韓澐 posted on 2016/04/20
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