Political PR and Social Media

March 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm (Public Relations) (, , , )

In class last time, we discussed political communication. The impact of the social media on the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign is very interesting.  Barack Obama (then presidential candidate) used social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook among others to attract voters.
The special thing about this strategy is that the internet helps reaching young voters more easily. In the United States and in many parts of Europe (United Kingdom or Hungary for example) many young people choose not to vote. Social media has the potential to reengage them in politics.

Facebook is certainly more engaging than watching a campaign speech on TV. People got the chance in the Obama 2008 campaign to organize themselves locally and online as well. This  gave the opportunity to turn a voter base into a creative fan base.
Of course some might argue that politicians are not celebrities and they will loose credibility if they act like one. I think as long as the (celebrity) politician is a respected leader and lives up to it professionally there is no problem.
A lot depends here in branding and maintaining the image, as well as keeping credibility and public trust through real actions.

Certainly this election demonstrated what political public relations can achieve through social media.  On the other hand this is not a one size fits all strategy. In different countries accessibility to computers and the internet varies. This means that there are places in the world where the use of social media in any campaign would only reach a certain demographic.
The other limitation to this might be the way the individual politician is perceived by the public. President Obama has a very energetic and youthful image. Therefore social media as a new political PR trend and him might be considered a natural match.
A campaign that bases itself heavily the internet might be a very good idea, but before doing just that it is always worth to look at the wider context more closely.

For more info go to:

Barack Obama Website

Barack Obama on Facebook

Barack Obama Channel on Youtube

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1 Comment

  1. Ralu said,

    Barack Obama’s campaign is a good example of the impact social media has on political communication. Politicians worldwide have tried to copy the model. Some failed whil others succeded. The demography issue you mentioned is an important determinant for the failure/success. If the electorate is formed by old people the chances to reach them online are small. However they are not zero. I was quite surprise to see old people in UK know what a tweet is:)

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