Politico Playbook Expanding to Include Podcasts, Breakfast Sandwiches

Politico Playbook Expanding to Include Podcasts, Breakfast Sandwiches
Palmer and Sherman. (Photograph by M. Scott Mahaskey/courtesy Politico)

It’s been about two-and-a-half months since Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer took over Politico’s Playbook, with its founding author, Mike Allen, departing the publication to join Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei‘s new venture. Since being handed Politico’s flagship product, Sherman and Palmer, along with Daniel Lippman, have tweaked the formula slightly—Playbook now features photos, short interviews, and an updated typeface—but have kept most of its other longstanding elements intact (shots and chasers, birthday wishes, who was taking shots from the Harambe luge, and such).

But bigger changes to Playbook are coming, Politico says, starting later this week when Sherman, Palmer, and Lippman drive a food truck around town to serve breakfast sandwiches and coffee to their readers.

What we really want to do is spend time with our core audience,” Palmer said by phone from Minnesota. “We’ve been brainstorming ideas of how to play on what Playbook is at its best. It’s a community.”

Okay, the breakfast-truck thing is a one-off stunt Politico is staging this week. The truck, emblazoned with Politico’s logo and the caricatures of Sherman and Palmer that appear on top of Playbook, will be parked from 7 to 10 AM outside the Capitol South Metro station on Wednesday, at Union Station on Thursday, and at 17th and K streets, Northwest, on Friday. Sherman, Palmer, and Lippman will be slinging bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches and vegetarian breakfast burritos from the truck’s window.

Politico’s bigger extension of Playbook is coming later, Palmer says, when it launches a built-out section of its website called Playbook Plus. Media-centric outlets reported when Sherman and Palmer started that Playbook Plus would be a repository for updates they can file during the day that may be of interest to readers in the afternoon, but perhaps wouldn’t still be ripe by the next morning. On Monday, Palmer said there will also be a daily podcast in which she and Sherman go over Playbook’s content. The podcast is part of a push freshen up the newsletter Allen built.

I think we’ve tried to make it our own,” Palmer said. “Keep the heart of Playbook intact to give people what they need to know before their 8 AM meeting or they go on TV. We’ve tried to do that as well as modernize it.”

The podcast version of Playbook, which will be distributed through Amazon’s Alexa platform, won’t go as deep as the text version, though. Think quick bursts of the day’s top items. Palmer says to think of it as a “90-second flash briefing” from her and Sherman.

There will also be other, non-breakfast events for people who aren’t early risers, such as a cocktail hour tomorrow at the W Hotel with US Representative John Lewis. Playbook going forward, Palmer says, “won’t just be an early morning thing. I think the slogan is going to be win the morning, own the day.”

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.