The phrase ‘split-screen presidency’ entered my consciousness for the first time in over a decade the other day.
I originally heard it in relation to Bill Clinton’s war leader adulation for bombing evil regimes one minute, hounded panto villain for playing adult games with a cigar the next.
Today it was for Obama’s indifference to Arabian democracy whilst strengthening Hispanic ties. At least he seems to have dropped the unwarranted self-description ‘leader of the free world’ from the American lexicon.
The media seem to use this tag when there are two wildly conflicting behaviours going on. Whilst they vie for dominance during news cycle instancy, even at the time it’s clear only one will have lasting impact, with the other a mere distraction.
Many a solution salesperson deals with this type of split screen battleground. Some have to juggle new business with account management. There’s run rate versus extensions, areas such as products and services, or own-label and third-party. How about the classic new product versus older ones. You can even go down to big customer versus the rest.
The problem that can emerge is when one of these, almost opposing, forces sublimates the other. Whether it be in terms of activity, airtime or attention. Where the solution to narrow focus is unavailable, then you could take a leaf out of an embattled American President’s book. How can you increase the volume of the side that’s going well?
Also, a split screen can be useful if you wish to isolate something less than savoury. When the focus is on one potentially damaging arena, then how can you raise the profile of other work that’s going as expected?