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‘Working The Critics’ in the White House.

In a presentation I’m doing about social media and small business, I say that business owners should seek critics out and ‘Embrace the Negative’.

Find the people who say negative things, and reach out to them too. Why they are unhappy? If you can – make it right. If you can’t, explain what you learned and what you will do differently. Send a personal email, send them a coupon for $5 off the next time they come.
Just like the positive comment – it’s not the economic value that matters; it’s the fact that you’re paying attention.

Well, that’s a lesson the White House seems to be taking to heart:

When New York Times columnist David Brooks accused the White House last week of “shaking confidence with its hyperactivity,” no fewer than four senior administration officials reached out to explain – ever so politely – how he was wrong.

Overkill? Maybe. But it’s what journalists have come to expect from an administration that’s trying much harder than its predecessor did to influence inside-the-Beltway opinion makers.

President Barack Obama dined with conservative columnists at George Will’s house even before he took the oath of office, and he continues to work the refs now. After a 35-minute interview with the Times White House team last week, the president called back to quibble with a question he’d been asked and to elaborate on the answer he’d given.

The communications team for President George W. Bush would have been much more likely to let the initial response stand and then blast the Times after publication – all the better for fanning the passions of a political base deeply distrustful of the mainstream media.

Andrew Rosenthal, The Times’ editorial page editor, says the Obama White House has been more “proactive” than the Bush White House was, offering up policy thinkers to more fully explain the administration’s positions – both before and after columns and editorials run.

“I’ve had more unsolicited offers for participation from the Obama people in 45 days than in the last eight years from Bush,” said Rosenthal.

Think there’s a lesson there??