Patrick Hynes

With impressive rapid response timing, the Romney camp YouTubed a video of Romney taking part in an interview on the popular Glenn and Helen Show Podcast saying, “Of course, I was wrong on some issues back then. I’m not embarrassed to admit that.”

The Romney mea culpa was itself a response to a video that appeared on YouTube just one day prior showing clips of Mitt Romney trumpeting, with apparent conviction, political positions that are not at all in line with those of typical Republican primary voters.

David All was impressed. “Yogi Berra used to say ‘You can observe a lot by just watching.’ It’s clear to me that Team Romney learned a lot by watching what happened to former Senator George Allen’s ineffective response to the macaca YouTube clip, and has yielded their communications team enough leverage to assess the situation and respond promptly and appropriately using the same medium,” he told me.

YouTube isn’t just for political bickering and banter. Smart corporations recognize the power of web-based video-on-demand, too. Coffee giant Starbucks found itself the subject of a YouTubing in mid-December when Oxfam America posted video of protesters demonstrating outside Starbucks locations. The protesters said they were standing up for “Ethiopian coffee farmers’ rights.”

Two days later Dub Hay, the head of the Starbucks Coffee Team took to YouTube to explain why Ethiopian coffee farmers make so little money. It’s a fairly esoteric answer that has more to do with trade agreements than corporate greed, but the point is, Starbucks didn’t just sit around and ignore the bad press. It responded swiftly and in kind. And, frankly, Starbucks looked more reasonable than its detractors because of it.

Nevertheless, we New Media-minded, crisis-management oriented politicos (and I definitely included myself in that we) may be getting a little too nerdy about the new communications opportunities presented to us by YouTube. As of this writing, roughly 5,500 people had watched the Romney rebuttal video. During roughly the same period of time, 1.3 million people watched a video from Dove Soap promoting its make-your-own-commercial contest.

(Disclosure: I am a consultant to Sen. John McCain, who may be a candidate for president in the future.)

Patrick Hynes

Patrick Hynes is the president of New Media Strategics, a blog relations consultancy. He is the proprietor of Ankle Biting Pundits and the author of In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current).

Be the first to read Patrick Hynes' column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.