WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) became the first U.S. government Cabinet agency to use YouTube as a communications vehicle. Regrettably, agency officials already concede that the effort will likely be counterproductive.
John Walters, Director of ONDCP and President Bush's "Drug Czar" said, "Over the past several years there has been an explosion in the number of Americans using emerging technologies to publish their views, learn about important issues, and to communicate with each other. We know that in order to remain effective communicators in this new information age, public institutions must adapt to meet the realities of these promising technologies. We hope that citizens, community leaders, and parents will use these new tools to learn more about what their government is doing..."
But in a subsequent interview with PRWeek, ONDCP Deputy Press Secretary Rafael Lemaitre admitted that by posting its advertising spots on YouTube, the most likely result is that the spots will be re-edited by drug enthusiasts into parodies designed to convey a contrary message. According to LeMaitre apparently, the use of public funds to inspire mockery of a federal program is a necessary response to the rise of social media and the blogosphere.
“Traditional structures about who has the power to communicate are being completely flipped around, with bloggers and podcasters having such influence," Lemaitre said. "We're at the point where public institutions have to evaluate how to remain effective in this new media environment."
ONDCP would not confirm whether it would also begin offering anti-drug jingles for download on iTunes, anti-drug icons for Instant Messenger, or “Just Say No” ringtones.
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ONDCP is a client of Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations. Word is that the agency is already considering entering this program for the PR Industry’s coveted Silver Anvil Award.