Category Archives: Political PR

What’s Trending is this Year’s Political Race?

Obama Poster during political PR seasonIt’s political season yet again, and this year’s presidential election won’t disappoint. Since David Axelrod, senior advisor for President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, and his team ripped the metaphorical fabric of social media use in a political campaign in half, everyone’s been trying to follow suite.

Political contenders across the country have been heavily using social media networks for awareness, message framing and fundraising purposes. This quote by Axelrod in a USA Today online article from 2011 certainly reveals how important social media is and will be to the 2012 campaign:

“Part of our mission is to really understand where all of this is going and to make sure that we’re reaching people where they are… that’s even more important for us, perhaps, than for others, because so much of our support came from younger, more wired people.”

Obama’s camp used every facet of social media to reach his constituencies, including: FacebookMySpaceYouTubeFlickrand Twitter. He also connected to various ethnic and LGBT groups through niche social outlets like BlackPlanetMiGente, and Glee, among others. These “wired” people became the backbone of his campaign, providing millions of dollars in micro-donations, viral support of his message and a groundswell of word-of-mouth – all while developing messages that correlated to his target audience.

The State of Social Media In the 2012 Election
We’re fast approaching Election Day and President Obama’s camp is already leading the social media race over Governor Romney. The Obama campaign is posting four times as much content on its website and social media properties than Romney according to the Pew Research Center.

Romney, however, has been focusing more on talking about Obama via his social networks than the opposition according to Political Hotsheet on CBS News website. This is probably due to the fact that campaigns have increasingly become finger-pointing competitions. But in the social world, using your opponent’s name/s will only bolster their SEO scores and help their campaign get indexed and more easily found.

The State of Your Social Media Campaign
This macro-level view of how social media can profoundly impact the vote reinforces the need for all of us to understand how these tools can be used in synchronicity to achieve our key objectives and goals.

Whether you’re a political candidate, staffer, corporate entity, nonprofit organization or municipality, social media is a game changer that needs to be carefully thought out when developing your strategic plan. You also need to keep in mind how social media affects many other aspects of the marketing mix, including: SEO scores and rankings, SEM campaign success and a variety of other digital PR and interactive disciplines.


SOPA and PIPA kill Freedom of Speech

Google's homepage during the 24-hour black out

We’ve been inundated in the media with the proposed legislation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) acts, which were written by lawmakers to stop online piracy.

But as a PR professional, I find it ridiculous that the core thrust of this legislation arose from intensive lobbying efforts by Hollywood movie and music industry conglomerates.

Having worked in industries that heavily lobby and done a bit of lobbying myself for causes, I know how it works. To discuss important issues with our legislative delegates is important and needed, but to use the influence and funding this industry has for specific and self-serving purposes really ticks me off.

Hey, I love movies and music as much as the next person, but to black out sites because they just “might” be breaking this law is heinous. That’s why we created the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, according to Julianne Pepitone in a recent article from CNN Money. More importantly, websites that provide information and provide products and services among many others, would have no right to due process or to appeal.

A Potentially Illegal Video


*If I shared this video as an example, the Attorney General would have the power to shut this blog down even though I am attributing it to Editor-in Chief, Evan Hansen, from Wired.com!

Can you imagine YouTube just shutting down the moment this bill was passed? Businesses link to millions of their videos hosted on YouTube; bloggers use YouTube to upload and embed videos on their blogs; and let’s not forget that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine! That’ll impact Web searching, as well as possibly end social search, or at least be a huge detractor.

Think about the sheer amount of invaluable information that would be reduced to rubble and how we, as a society, would react. We rely on the Internet like we rely on breathing. Well, stop breathing people if this bill is passed.

And the whole concept of content marketing, creation, distribution and aggregation would be almost impossible to achieve. Our country is founded on the First Amendment and freedom of speech; and we as PR pros and communicators base our existence on this as a guiding light to promote our messages, changes perceptions and educate the communities we serve.

A Final Thought
My final thought on this subject for the moment before Federal officials take down my blog (insert frown emoticon) is that we better fight this. If we don’t, we’ll be at the mercy of relentless Federal legislation restricting our use of content, in every form. PR pros, agencies and organizations like Shel HoltzOgilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Public Relations Society of America as a united organization have opposed these bills. Follow their lead!

A News Flash
The only positive news recently released today was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indefinitely postponed the Congressional Hearing this coming Tuesday (Jan. 24).

Find your local representative and contact them

A Voice that Counts
There’s still time to voice your opinion though and join forces on opposing SOPA and PIPA before we join the company of China, Iran and other superpowers that have censored the Web to no end. Take action! Check out Wikipedia’s page to look up your local public officials and sign the petition.


Inclusion drives support for Treasury Department


Front of the Treasury Department Building

While I don’t typically discuss anything related to politics anymore (spent too many years in the political realm), I do want to discuss the recent Treasury Department meeting. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner held a meeting on Nov. 2 – which doesn’t seem out of the ordinary – except for the fact that he invited 20 key financial bloggers to attend in person.

Many of these bloggers had chastised the department and Geithner in the past, but have now changed their tune. Why? Because they were included in the real-world conversation – a first in the Treasury’s history. Of the 20 invited, eight showed up at their own expense. Not bad considering the economy; but fitting since it was at the Treasury Department.

According to an article in The New York Times yesterday, Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, who writes for the Marginal Revolution blog and contributes to The Times, said:

The meeting shows that the Obama administration is working very hard on outreach to a lot of different media sources… I think we were much better informed than the groups they’re used to talking to.

Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury who helped plan the event, stated that Geithner has “long valued the blogosphere.” Geithner had also commented that while serving as the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he requested relevant daily blog posts.

Williams said another reason for the outreach is that the “blogs are influential, especially because they are read by reporters at more traditional outlets.”

How did PR impact this?
Geithner and his team made a smart decision to include financial bloggers in an ordinary, run-of-the-mill meeting. It made the bloggers, who usually feel disconnected, part of the conversation and decision-making process. They were able to ask questions in person, rather than make assumptions after hearing about it via a blog post.

Social Media is all about inclusion and developing strong conversations that resonate with your target audiences. I applaud the Treasury Department for its desire to take a step in the right direction – creating transparency, trust and advocates among their once weary target audience.

This is a great example of how a PR professional can influence the dissemination of information among target publics by being forward-thinking and proactive.

Steve Randy Waldman, blogger for the blog Interfluidity sums it up perfectly when he said:

I’d like to thank the “senior Treasury officials” for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have… It was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people… The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policy makers…


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