Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

Supporters Are Reporters: Harnessing Social Media During an Election Season

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I personally believe that every brand (be it a consumer brand, b2b, cause, movement, politician, etc.) needs a social media strategy. Whether it’s on a small scale and consists only of active listening, or on a large scale with serious strategy, weighed tactics, targeted content – your brand needs social media.

Politicians are a brand and they need social media, too. Why? Because supporters are reporters. According to a Pew Internet Research Survey online politicking translates into offline activism. Another Pew survey showed that 1 in 3 internet users disseminates political information via social media platforms. And it’s conventional wisdom that people trust the information delivered by their friends online – opening the potential nexus for a candidate even further.

If you need another reason why a political campaign needs an online presence, how about this: 130,048,500 US Facebook users are voting-age eligible [source]. There are 230,782,870 voting-age eligible people in the US [source]. While this means that 56% of the voting-age eligible population is on Facebook, what it really means is that campaigning needs to be online and it needs to be done right.

For the most part, a social media strategy can be approached with similar tactics a political campaign would utilize for a traditional media strategy. As with everything, there are pros and cons to both, and in no way should a social media strategy take the place of a traditional media strategy – at least not yet.


Any political operative can tell you that the national committees’ databases are not always up-to-date or the most reliable when it comes to microtargeting. Yes, the data is improving, but there is even more data available online. Facebook, for example, allows you to advertise to very specific people. If your goal is to reach out to loyal voters, who are female, live in a suburb, are fans of the DNC  and are ages 25-34 you can do that. The targeting can be so specific, that a campaign could indicate a voter who is employed by a certain type of company, is married and has three children. And above all, it is cheap.

Crisis Communications

During campaign season there is always a crisis. The candidate makes a gaffe, a staffer slips up, a spouse says something off the cuff to a reporter. Social media platforms allow a campaign to quickly snuff out a problem before it turns into a week’s worth of the broadcast and print news cycle. A campaign is able to jump on Facebook or Twitter and rectify a situation before too many supporters have heard about it. After all, supporters are reporters – so nip it in the bud before they jump ship or spread the news to their network.


Yes, I know it’s the 2008 buzzword, but it seems that now more than ever voters want transparency. They want to know what the candidates really think and why. Voters want to know why a candidate flips on an issue. They want straight answers. They want to know where the money is going. It’s important, as with any brand or campaign, to remain transparent to your followers. If there is a problem, you say, “yes, we know there is a problem and this is what we’re doing to fix the situation.” You’ll also want to make sure that it is clear who is delivering the message on your chosen platforms, especially when it is not the candidate themselves.  Be upfront and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Sell It

Take coca-cola for example. People who love coca-cola aren’t going to buy another brand, they’re going to buy coca-cola. But coca-cola still has to sell it to their loyalists, and so does a candidate and elected official. So sell it. I’m not advocating for pandering to a certain group of people, and just telling them whatever they want to hear, ultimately resulting in false and empty promises. But you have to give people a reason to decide to like you, to leave their house and vote for you, and ultimately to keep coming back for more. Think about the people you want to bring in as supporters and keep those that are loyalists interested in what you have to say.

Get Out The Vote – GOTV

A campaign’s social media strategy needs to be included in a campaign’s overall GOTV efforts. Are you shuttling people to the polls? Tell them where they can get more information. Is it the last day to register to vote? Make sure your supporters know where they can go to register.

Unique Content

Yes, you want to do something differently than your opponent. But you should also include content that is unique to your campaign and your traditional media efforts. Include videos, live interviews with the candidate, audio clips and even unaired TV spots. Remember that voters are inundated with your mailers and TV ads and radio ads. The last thing you want to do is feed them updates with the same content. Sure, include all of your ads on YouTube, but when it comes to a platform on which you wholeheartedly engage with your supporters be sure to reward them with something new.

Staff It

To execute a political social media strategy it has to be staffed well. You want someone who understands the candidate, the themes of the campaigns, the issues and talking points for the campaign. Above all you want someone who understands social media and what is appropriate and inappropriate to say. This person will need to advise the full communications staff and will also need to know how to handle a fire when one breaks out. Your supporters will also want, and therefore expect, that when they comment on a Facebook page or Tweet a candidate that they are given a prompt and helpful response. Make sure your platforms are manned at all times and your supporters acknowledged.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to a political social media strategy, and certainly more than I’ve laid out here. I think that every candidate from the local to the federal level should get into the game online and engage with their audience because it really comes down to your supporters are reporters. They expect to be able to get your campaign news and information and the candidate’s views on Facebook and Twitter. Voters are out there waiting to consume your content, so go to them. Supporters disseminate your campaign news online, they advocate for you online, they bring you new supporters, and they all cash in for you on election day at the polls.

Write Your Headline: Nike Digital Installation

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Maybe it’s because USA just won (by an amazing goal at the very end of the second half), but I’ve been all over the World Cup this past week.  From New Zealand’s amazing tie with Italy to USA winning Group C, you just can’t beat that.

Nike got tons of coverage and attention for creating the most viral video ever on YouTube (if by some chance you still haven’t seen it – check it out here), but I’m also loving the digital installation that they’ve created in South Africa.

Basically, Nike has created a huge LED display in Johannesburg, and Chalkbot style, is letting fans from around the world use social networks like Facebook to send messages for potential posting.

You can tweet your message to #NikeFuture for a chance for your message to be on of the 100/night that are broadcasted across the display.  Go for it.  And go #USA!

Links of the Week: June 18th Edition

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Restaurant Chain Serving up Social Media

Most brands are navigating their way through the social media space and learning how to use social media as a marketing tool. This summer, a New York City restaurant chain is turning the strategy around and creating a restaurant around a social media strategy. Not only will customers be able to order using iPads and place orders at home, they will also be able to name their creation and post it on Facebook or Twitter. They will also utilizing Foursquare and additional social media tools.

The HTC Not-So-Incredible?

The HTC Incredible droid is selling like mad but there may be a bug that compromises the device’s security. The Incredible stores screenshots of the contents of your web browser occasionally – which is not abnormal for these types of devices. The security concerns are that these JPEG files are very difficult to get rid of – even after a full factory reset.

Get Mashed with Mashable’s SummerMash Tour 2010

Mashable has announced their U.S. SummerMash 2010 Tour dates and stops. The tour will be stopping in Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Chicago and New York City. These stops will include networking, sponsor introductions, music, drinks and appetizers. Tickets are limited to between 300 to 600 attendees.

Now Possible to “Facebook-Like” Things in Everyday Life

Facebook enthusiasts everywhere, rejoice! It’s now possible to take the digital idea of “liking” something on Facebook and apply it to the real world – with a fun new rubber stamp! The rubber stamp, which was created as a concept, may soon be going into full-scale production.

Apple Says “I Do” to Tiffany & Co

A leader in the luxury world, Tiffany & Co has joined forces with Apple to help make it easier for lazy and commitment-phobic men everywhere to pop the question. Their new application includes a sizer which helps determine ring size and allows users to browse different options such as carat size, design, metal, shape and setting and then view them in a true-to-size scale. These creations can also be sent via email, text, Facebook or Twitter.

Small, Slow and Closed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.

During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you.   Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change?  He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed.  Small  in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.

Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:

Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers.  By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable.  Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits.  Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs.   Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.

In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities.  This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills.  This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.

The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection.  I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.

iPhone 4 Unveiled at WWDC

Monday, June 7th, 2010

As rumored, Steve Jobs unveiled the newest generation of the iPhone during his keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference today. The new phone, which has dropped “phone” from its name and is now referred to as iOS 4, will be available for pre-order on 6/21 and in stores on 6/24.

The controversial Gizmodo leak in April got it right in terms of its design. The iOS 4 will include glass on the front and back for a more scratch (and fingerprint) resistant surface and stainless steel around the newly squared sides. Apple’s new phone is thinner than its predecessors, features two camera lenses and an LED flash, as well as 326 pixels per inch and a 3 axis gyroscope to help with tracking on its GPS sensor. The new phone will have HD video recording capabilities (720p quality) and users will be able to edit video on the phone.

What does this all mean?

Apple is hoping that it means they have changed the playing field again. And I, an Apple-obsessed user, agree that it will change the way we communicate forever because it will up the ante on our expectations of what we think our phones should be capable of. Soon we won’t be calling them “smartphones,” they’ll all be just phones as consumer expectations continue to dictate the course of technology.

All of these specs (available in their entirety here) and highly technological language shake out to a much better battery life (think: 7 hours of talk time, 6 hours of 3G web browsing and 10 hours of WiFi browsing, as well as 10 hours of video, 40 hours of music, and 300 hours of standby); video chatting; multitasking and folder organized applications; better telephone connection; faster internet; insanely clear and crisp images, and better GPS. Oh, and voice control. And photo and video geotagging.

Come June 24th, we’ll be able to geotag our pictures (can we say Foursquare integration in the near future?) on Twitter and our videos on Facebook. We’ll be able to video chat with our friends in Ohio for some quality face time and then show the same friends what we’re seeing around us – while still chatting. The new phone will undoubtedly give rise to a new generation of social networking platforms as well as push our stand-by favorites (Twitter and Facebook, we heart you) to come up with new functions to integrate with the ever changing mobile technology landscape.

Endgadget has a great slideshow of Steve Jobs’ keynote with pictures of the iOS 4’s new features (of which there are 1,500 in total), as well as clips from the promotional videos.