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How Officials Use the Media

45 min

Essential Question 

  • How does the use of media help or hinder government officials’ communication with the public? 

Guiding Questions 

  • How do public officials use the media to communicate with the people? 


  • Students will be able to explain how government officials use the media to communicate with constituents and the public. 


Student Resources: 

  • Internet-enabled device with access to social media accounts of the president (or printed off/screenshots from Teacher) 
  • Graphic Organizer 

Teacher Resources: 

  • Predetermined media sources if not utilizing social media posts 

Facilitation Notes 

  • The focus of this lesson is the president’s official social media. Teachers may curate a set of screenshots for students to use instead of real-time social media use in the classroom.  
  • Social media has been chosen for this lesson because it is the most used means of communication for government officials to reach young people. 
  • The lesson could be adjusted to suit another public official.  
  • Teachers can choose other media sources; webpages, news brief clips, or print interviews, set up in stations students can rotate through or ready to be assigned to groups and then shared, depending on teacher choice and time available.  


  • Ask students to list as many ways as possible they can think of for how the president can reach the people. 
    • Answers may include interviews (television, newspapers, radio, podcasts,) having a website, social media accounts, in-person events like town halls or speeches, or press conferences.  
  • Then ask students to explain why it is necessary to use these diverse types to communicate with people.  
    • The goal of asking this question is to get students to think about topics such as the different audiences the public officials are trying to communicate with through those media types, the availability in different areas or time periods, the speed at which information is disseminated through each type, and how interactive with people the officials can be.  
  • Transition: Say to students: Today we will look at how the president uses social media to communicate with the people. Not everyone uses social media or follows the president, so this is just one means of communication. Remember the others we listed as well.  



  • Review the official and unofficial roles of the president (such as commander-in-chief, head of state, chief executive, chief diplomat, and political party leader) so students can focus on separate roles the president might be filling while posting on social media.  
  • Transition: Say to students: We will look at the president’s social media posts to see how the president uses them to communicate with the public. We will also look at how that communication might differ for the general public, those who cannot vote or live outside of the U.S., and those constituents that the support the president. 
  • Distribute Graphic Organizer.

Scaffolding notes:  

  • Remind students “The response from” column of the organizer is NOT comments on the post. (Reading the comments to social media posts would often be inappropriate for students and moves away from the main purpose of the lesson.) 
  • If completing this for a public official of a more specific position (representative, senator, or governor) those positions will change the nature of communication for groups of people as that position represents a smaller group of people.  
  • Depending on class situations, work can be done individually, as partners, or in small groups. Teachers can determine how many examples students work with.  
  • Media Communication Column- Students should look at several specific posts, looking for posts that fulfill the many roles of the president mentioned before. In this column, they will link, screenshot, or describe the communication. For example, “On Thursday, April 18, 2024, the president tweeted…” 
  • Purpose from Public Official Column- For each post, students will summarize the purpose of the communication (such as giving instructions, outlining plans, offering inspiring words, sharing a congratulatory message, responding to a natural disaster)  
  • Meaning To/Reaction From Column-Then, students will reflect on how that communication could be received by the public, by those who are and are not directly represented by the president.  
    • This gives students a chance to think about how a 16-year-old in America (someone who cannot vote now but might one day), a 30-year-old in a foreign country (someone who cannot vote for the president of the U.S. but might still be impacted) a voting-age supporter, and a voting-age political opponent in the U.S. might respond to the same communication.  
  • Remind students to consider throughout their work that the president is filling many roles (such as commander-in-chief, head of state, chief executive, chief diplomat, and political party leader) and to look for that in the communication.  

Assess & Reflect 

  • After students have completed the organizer, ask the following questions: 
    • What strengths do you see through the president’s use of social media to communicate with people? 
    • What weaknesses do you see through the president’s use of social media to communicate with people? 
    • As a soon-to-be voter (or new voter) what advice would you offer the president when it comes to communicating with young people through social media? 
    • Compared to other means of communication, do you think social media offers more benefits or disadvantages for public officials? Explain.  


  • Students can select a different public official and different form of media to complete the assignment again.  

Student Handouts