Political candidates use online videos to tell their stories, display their values, and foster momentum around their campaigns. But elected officials not facing an immediate electoral challenge almost never invest in video production to promote their accomplishments.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is an exception to the rule. Christie’s office is producing videos in-house to tout his accomplishments and remind Garden State residents that he’s not done yet.
“Doing the big things: Can’t stop now!” declares a frame at the end of the “Can’t Stop Now” video seen on the Governor’s official YouTube channel. The channel is flooded with videos featuring the charismatic executive at speaking engagements and on news shows, often lending levity to serious discussions with a quip or two.
But for the past year, Christie’s office has posted a handful of produced videos more reminiscent of the kind we’re seeing out of GOP presidential hopefuls such as Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman. The videos are intended to complement Christie’s broader communications strategy, mirroring much of what he and his staff say elsewhere.
“Ultimately our objective, whether it’s using video or public appearances, is to clearly lay out what his reform agenda is,” said Riccardo Diaz, director of media affairs for the Governor’s office.
“New Jersey is leading the way with bipartisan solutions for the toughest challenges facing states today. But we can’t stop now. Show your support on Twitter with the hashtag #cantstopnow,” notes the description of the “Can’t Stop Now” video on YouTube. The hashtag also appears on banners used as a backdrop for Christie’s townhall style addresses, and has been picked up on Twitter by supporters and detractors alike. A new “Can’t Stop Now” Facebook app features the video, along with sections offering in-depth information about property tax reform, the budget, education, and other key issues.
Christie’s staff reserves the more heavily produced videos for milestone moments. A video posted a year ago that’s been viewed over 50,000 times asks, “How Do You Like New Jersey Now?” The video uses footage of the Governor along with graphics and text to mark significant happenings during his first 182 days in office, including the decision to host the 2014 Super Bowl at New Jersey’s New Meadowlands Stadium.
The videos are typically promoted in the Governor’s official Twitter account, Facebook page, and site, and are also distributed to political blogs.
In the case of the Can’t Stop Now video, the idea was to commemorate the passage of public worker pension and healthcare benefits reform in June. “We put together something that succinctly wrapped up what this meant, and quickly laid out that the Governor was able to achieve this in a bipartisan manner,” said Diaz, who started on Christie’s staff in May. Diaz created the Can’t Stop video and is the lone digital media member of the Governor’s staff.
An earlier video called “Ready for the Challenge,” uploaded in February, also employs the “big things” phrase, telling viewers, “For New Jersey it is time to do the big things.” Christie himself used the phrase in a speech. The “Ready” and “Can’t” videos have around 5,250 views each. About 3,800 people subscribe to the Governor’s official YouTube channel.
Like the “big things” phrase suggests, the videos often latch on to Christie’s own words. “We really feel that the Governor being the Governor is unbelievably valuable,” said Diaz.
Text displayed in another video called, “History Repeating,” published July 11, states, “It’s time to stop history from repeating.” In footage of his own speech about the Democratic budget seen in the video, Christie – a Republican – states, “The Democratic budget is history repeating itself.”
The Governor is involved in a PR battle with Democrats who argue that his budget is hurting state residents because it slashed funding for a variety of assistance programs. Rather than trumpeting Christie’s achievements, the video serves as a virtual bully pulpit. “But again, the Democrats want to spend money we don’t have,” reads text that flashes across the screen.