by Brenda Jones Barwick, APR
We’ve all heard the cliché, All Politics is Local. Coined by former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill to encapsulate the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents.
In many ways, political campaigns is a microcosm of public relations. Every candidate has a story to tell and aims to persuade a 50%-plus-one target audience to act by voting for the candidate on election day.
Electoral campaigns have a goal and deadline — to win on election day — and a plan with measurable objectives, defined audiences, developed message points. All of these campaign elements are continually evaluated at various stages, such as polls, to be sure the objectives are being achieved and right audiences reached with the right messages.
When you dive deeper into analyzing the elements of an electoral campaign, the tactics begin looking very familiar.
- Media Relations – News conferences, news releases, OpEds
- Traditional Marketing – Direct mail, speaking ops, awards
- Online Marketing – Website, e-blasts, blogs, banner ads
- Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn
- Creative – Logo, videos to visualize your story, graphics
- Advertising – Guaranteed message placement and frequency
- Community Relations – Special events, sponsorships
- Internal Relations – Newsletter, rallies
- Public Affairs – Legislation advocacy, Strategic alliances
- Investor Relations – Conference calls with financial supporters
These are all the same tools that public relations professionals utilize in their toolkit. Yes, advertising is another tool in our toolkit.
What we can learn from electoral campaigns is that public relations is the most efficient and comprehensive approach to telling your story. Political campaigns have to be extremely efficient with funds that results in an election day victory with laser-focused messaging and precise audience targeting.
Often times, we complicate a campaign by getting bogged down in the process. Every agency, every client has a story, and everyone wants to hear a good story.
A campaign requires all of the tools in the public relations toolkit to successfully win customers, clients and voters.