Political vs. Branding Campaigns: What Politicians are Doing Right

polsmSocial media has invariably changed communication. So far, nothing has been off limits from social promotion, including Mountain Dew’s Dewrito, a Doritos-flavored soft drink (yes it exists).

The growing trend in the social media atmosphere has shifted into the realm of politics, as politicians increasingly campaign on Twitter. A recent study by PEW Research has shown that 1/4 of registered voters now get political news through their cell phones, 16% of registered voters also follow political figures on Twitter.

Politicians seem to be enjoying this, as it allows them to connect with their constituency and opposition in a unique way. Politicians are now able to use live monitoring via social media in order to understand and inform voters about their stances on issues. They also use software to monitor their opposition, taking screenshots of their pages as soon as changes are made and often catching the opposition off guard.

So what can be taken from these campaigns for your next campaign?

Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread!
Remember to check and double-check every Tweet before it’s sent out. If you’re running a campaign, odds are that no one will notice if you mess up a Tweet and delete it quick enough. Politicians don’t have this luxury, as competition is constantly monitoring campaign handles for updates. A screw-up is liable to land you on the front page of PolitWoops, a website that takes screenshots of all updates, and uploads the botched Tweets. Please folks, don’t be like Senator Hatch; proofread as if all of your Tweets are monitored, even when they aren’t.

SenHMake Connections
As we all know (or should know) social media is all about sharing content and making valuable connections with others. So why should it be any different for your campaign? Politicians know and understand this. They use it to their advantage by interacting with their constituency and sharing important updates. The PEW study showed that 41%, up from 22% in 2010, of those polled said that finding out about political news before others is a “major reason” why they follow political figures on social media.

To put it simply, most politicians are doing it right. Some 78% of Americans who follow political figures on social media say that the content posted by those figures is mostly interesting and relevant. The 16% of registered voters that follow a political figure are more likely to participate in campaigning and are 11% more likely to volunteer their time toward that figure than a non-follower.

Any PR pro will tell you that social media isn’t just about the number of followers you have, it’s about the valuable connections you make. A balance must be struck between pushing your wants and what your audience wants. As such, there can be a variety of ways to be more than just a walking-talking-tweeting ad. The key to creating a dedicated following, is finding what your niche audience wants and giving it to them.

Know your Limits
Remember that social media isn’t the king of all platforms yet. It’s still growing and professionals are still learning.  The story of social media is still being written and we are the authors of its’ early chapters. Social media campaigning is a great way to target select demographics, but not all. I think Gregg Peppin, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, said it best in an article for the Minnesota Post, “You have to be able to differentiate from what’s feel good and what’s effective,” he said. “There are plenty of people who want to tell you that you will hit this demographic and that demographic if you are on social media,” he said. “It almost gets down to a subliminal hit rather than an overall effective message. It’s a rifle versus a shotgun.”

Though there are some drawbacks to social media campaigns. For instance, a politician must be able to differentiate effective messages to target their audience. Just as well, something buzz worthy is usually just short-lived attention toward the campaign. Keep these tips in mind the next time a campaign idea floats around the office.

Fred Lunt IV is a recent graduate of Temple University. Fred is also a Social Media Analyst and consultant at Mobile First Media, a healthcare public relations and marketing agency specializing in digital and mobile technology.


Protecting Your Personal Brand on Twitter

Today, more and more people are focused on building and maintaining their personal brands. This is especially true for those of us working in the communications field. When it comes to your personal brand, there isn’t much that is more telling than your social media presence.

We know that current and future employers will check our social accounts, but these platforms are also where we express personal opinions, connect with friends, and more. With our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pulling double duty, it can be very difficult to strike the right balance between personal and professional. For many people, the platform that seems to give them the most trouble is Twitter.

One of my favorite PR pros (and fellow Temple Alum), Jason Mollica, recently had a post published on PR Daily that tackled the tricky question of whether people should have two Twitter accounts — one professional and one personal. In the post, Jason gives several reasons why one account is enough, and I have to say, I’m inclined to agree.

In addition to the points made by Jason in his post, for me it comes down to something simple — if you don’t want people to see it, it shouldn’t be online in the first place. If you take care to ensure that you’re never posting anything inappropriate, then you won’t have to worry about setting up two separate Twitter accounts. The same logic goes for retweeting — just because you didn’t type the words yourself doesn’t mean you can’t be held accountable for them once they are on your feed.

My boss is something of a social media guru and we follow each other on Twitter, so I always use her as my barometer when tweeting. If I think she’d have a problem with my words (or pictures), then I don’t press send.

Your boss may not be Twitter-savy, or maybe you are the boss, but you should always have someone in mind when you are about to send a tweet. Taking that extra moment to reflect on your post before you hit send can save you in the long run.

No one is saying you can’t have fun on Twitter. In fact, inserting your personality and opinions only adds to the authenticity of your personal brand, but they key is to always be mindful of your content.

What guidelines do you use to protect your personal brand on Twitter? Do you have two accounts or have you managed to balance everything using one account?

This post was written by PPRA Blog Chair Lauren Cox. Lauren is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of the CIty Representative, where she works on the City’s major events like the Wawa Welcome America! Festival and the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Mix & Match Your Social Networks

Any good PR pro knows that social media sites have varying audiences and favor different types of content, but it is also important to learn how you can pair your social networks in order to give your brand more exposure.

Mashable recently shared some tips on which social platforms work well together and how you can best use these combinations. The pairings included:

  • Instagram and Pinterest
  • Tumblr and Pinterest
  • Twitter and Pinterest
  • YouTube and  “Everything Else”
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Twitter and Tumblr/Reddit

How have you mix & matched your brand’s social networks? Which combinations have proved to be most successful? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

This post was written by PPRA Blog Chair Lauren Cox. Lauren is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of the CIty Representative, where she works on the City’s major events like the Wawa Welcome America! Festival and the Philadelphia Marathon. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Top 5 Twitter Chats for PR Pros

By now, we all know that Twitter is a fantastic place to network, share resources and ideas and learn from other professionals across a variety of industries. But did you know that there are weekly and monthly chats on Twitter to bring together communities around a specific topic?

With more than 100 chats taking place on Twitter at any given time, we’ve narrowed down the list to the top 5 Twitter chats you should be paying attention to and participating in if you work in the PR industry.

1. #Journchat (Mondays from 8-9 p.m. EST): Long before many PR professionals adopted Twitter, #Journchat launched in 2008 and stakes the claim of being the first-ever Twitter chat. This hour-long chat is designed to keep the lines of communication open between PR pros, journalists and bloggers.

2. #PRStudChat (Held monthly- check Twitter for details): While this chat may have the word “stud” in it for “student,” everyone can be a lifelong learner in this awesome chat. Started by Deirdre Breakenridge and Valerie Simon in 2009, the goal of the chat is to connect PR students, professionals and educators to discuss industry trends, PR education, networking, careers and more.

3. #SoloPR (Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. EST): This chat (and full-on online community) was started by Kellye Crane, an independent PR consultant in 2008 to bring together fellow freelance PR practitioners to network and learn from one another. Whether you actually are a solo PR professional or not, this chat is great to follow for inspiration, ideas and education from a group of smart and savvy pros.

4. #CmgrChat (Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. EST): Many PR professionals are also tasked with the responsibility of serving as their organization’s community manager online. This weekly Twitter chat is designed to provide a community for those who spend their days at work managing communities on social media.

5. #MeasurePR (First Tuesday of every month from 1-2 p.m. EST): Interested in learning more about how to measure your public relations efforts? This monthly chat founded by Shonali Burke is for you! Though the chat is once a month, stay tuned to the hashtag frequently for more conversation and resources.

Honorable Mentions:

Looking for more useful chats to check out? Here’s some of our other favorite Twitter chats for PR pros:

Need help getting started with participating in your first Twitter chat? It’s easy! Simply head to Tweetchat.com, login with your Twitter credentials, enter the hashtag of the chat and follow the conversation.

Do you have a favorite Twitter chat? Share in the comments below!

This post was written by PPRA Vice President of Communications Jessica Lawlor. Jessica is the marketing and communications coordinator for Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, PA. In her role at the tourism office, she is responsible for content creation. e-communications, B2B public relations efforts and assisting with social media, advertising and marketing initiatives. In her free time, Jessica is a freelance writer and blogs at JessicaLawlor.com about getting gutsy-stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals.

We’re All Ears

As PR professionals, we have all struggled with the same social media questions. Will this platform help my business? Can tweeting really promote thought leadership? What is the value of a recommendation on LinkedIn?

Sound familiar?

The Philadelphia Public Relations Association invites you to engage with your colleagues on all of our social media channels — and not because we care about adding numbers to our pages; but rather, because we all have the same objectives in mind: to reach people; to find our audience; and to influence them in positive ways.

Forget the platforms. Forget the jargon. Then the questions become “how are we engaging potential clients?” and “are we telling our stories where they need to be told?”

These aren’t social media questions. They are public relations questions. They are questions we should all be asking — and should continue to ask — whether it’s about Twitter, Facebook, or the myriad of ways we share information.

Social media can be en excellent tool, both for our members and for our association. We can promote the group by promoting each other. Rest assured: if you speak up, we will listen.

Stay connected to PPRA online with the help of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course, this blog!

This post was written by PPRA Social Media Co-Chair Joseph Master. Joseph is the Assistant Director of Communications at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, where he manages strategy and content generation for all online communications. Get to know more about Joseph by connecting with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.