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White Boards and Goolsbee vs. Obama and Babies

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 29 2011

The White House, too, sweats pageviews, Macon Phillips revealed yesterday.

At a Brookings event event on Tuesday, Phillips, the White House new media director, fielded a question about engaging more than 10 percent of the American public. He told the story of the White House White Board, a White House initiative that puts a whiteboard in front of a White House official, the official in front of a video camera, and the video on YouTube.

"A lot of them are in sort of the tens of thousands of views, we've had some break over 100,000," Phillips told the audience at the Brookings Governance Studies and Center for Technology Innovation event. "We try to make them about issues that are in the news so that people are sort of checking them out."

Meanwhile, this clip excerpted from the White House-produced "West Wing Week," in which President Barack Obama soothes a crying baby, has over 1.2 million views.

"Raise your hand if you've seen that," Phillips suggested to the crowd. Many raised their hands. "Okay, now raise your hand if you've seen a White House White Board."

A predictably low number of hands remained.

"Right," said Phillips, "that's my point."

"For us, it's frustrating to see these videos go viral and get a lot of views when in fact our policy [videos] don't get as many views," Phillips continued. "And I think if you can figure out a way to blend them a little bit, and we haven't solved this problem, but if there's a way to connect the two, it's a very powerful opportunity to get stuff out there that they want to see but also understand the policy positions."

National Journal has another good write-up of the Brookings event, courtesy of Nextgov's Joseph Marks.