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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The White House is partnering with social media influencers and online platforms to sell its message directly to the American people in a fresh facet of its digital strategy, administration officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The “digital media tour” mimics an approach used last year, when the Biden campaign sought to reach a younger demographic wary of the possibility of an older, out-of-touch president.

In its first deployment of the strategy, the White House offered up two National Economic Council directors for interviews last week with social media influencers like “Budgetnista” and “The Money Coach."

  • The goal was to have them help persuade Americans — and their representatives in Congress — to support President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.
  • The bill ended up passing the Senate on Saturday, and without any Republican support, as it had the House.
  • The White House tried its direct-to-constituent approach because a majority of Americans strongly supported the bill, including 60% of Republicans who either strongly supported or somewhat supported the package, per a Morning Consult/Politico poll.

The White House will use this strategy as it continues to introduce new policies and proposals.

  • The idea is to find influencers who've earned the trust of dedicated audiences. They come with a set of unique followers on platforms like Instagram that the White House would be unable to reach through its own social media following.
  • Some of the influencers have solicited questions from their followers.
  • The White House officials offered for interviews go through a series of one-on-ones in a round-robin format, staying in place while interviewees are “switchboarded” in on Zoom.
  • Those influencers are then allowed to use the content however they see fit on their platforms.

The bottom line: This style of outreach is an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic public health restrictions, which limited the Biden campaign’s ability to do in-person outreach.

  • The direct-through-influencer approach also comes as White House reporters have become impatient waiting for the president's first press conference.
  • Press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden will hold one "before the end of the month."

Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

4 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.