Five Non-Political Public Relations Lessons From Campaign 2010

The best part of elections is that the next one's two years away.

Well, the votes are in…mostly.   And, while half the country is celebrating and the other half is consoling itself, it’s important to look at five non-political lessons that every public relations person should take from Campaign 2010

1.  NOTHING IS OFF THE RECORD, EVER.

There once was a time when a person could let loose with the odd swear, slur, or violent outburst and have it slip under the radar without anyone knowing.  Not anymore.  Smart phones, cheap video cameras, blogs, YouTube and Twitter have made everything we do susceptible to public scrutiny.  Think how many politicians are wishing they could get back that one unfortunate minute of their lives that got caught on tape.  Gone are the days of controlling the media.  It has become vitally important for public relations folks to control their clients instead.  If your not giving your clients media training you must start, today.  The best way not to get caught doing something stupid on camera is to not do something stupid at all.

2.  BLOGGERS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS REPORTERS

Remember when reporters were kings and bloggers were just crazy nut jobs living in their parents’ basement?  Well that’s just not the case anymore.  A quick look at The Truth Laid Bear, a website which tracks blog traffic, will show you that the biggest blogs on the web are getting nearly two million hits a day.

Two million hits…..a day.

Heck, the 200th rated blog is getting over 75,000 hits a day.  You still think bloggers are crazy?  I can tell you that lots of politicians who are nursing their wounds today thought that.

Listen carefully, there is no “new media” or “old media.”  It’s all media, and you need to pitch to it.   It is far more likely that a person will take advice about a business from a blogger that they read daily than from a media entity they may only see occasionally.  Blogs are word of mouth on steroids.  If you’re not reaching out to the blogging community, you are doing your clients a disservice.

3.  ANYONE NOT USING SOCIAL MEDIA IS GETTING LEFT BEHIND

O.K. here’s a little test for you.  Look at all the people that you follow on your various social media sites who told you in the last week A) how they were going to vote; B) how you should vote; and C) that they did indeed vote in the 2010 election.  How many of them didn’t tell you anything about their voting preference four years ago?

Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Politicians who were able to take advantage of social media are headed to Washington, while those who didn’t are headed to their computers to learn how to take advantage.  Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business with social media.  If you’re not listening and responding, your losing out on opportunities.  That’s just not good for any business in this current climate.

4.  PERSONAL TOUCHES STILL MATTER

Make no mistake.  Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Flicker, Digg and Google are all very important.  But a handshake is just as important.  One politician who won as a huge underdog sent personal handwritten notes to every donor during his campaign.  Think that might have made a difference?  Public relations and social media are just like paint brushes and easels.  They are tools.  You have to use them to illustrate what makes your businesses identity.  The more you can reach out and touch people personally, the more likely they are to have a positive view of you.  Then they can use their social media to tell potential new customers how great you are.  Two networks telling their people about your awesome business is way better than just one network.

5.  KEEP YOUR POLITICAL THOUGHTS OFF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

There is one thing from Campaign 2010 which has brought all Americans together, and that is that they hate the mudslinging and arguing that comes with every election.  They hate being told “you’re an idiot if you vote for Prop T1000,” or “only commies and fascists would vote for that candidate.”  Perhaps the best advice on this topic comes from Michael Jordan who, when asked why he didn’t get involved in political activism on behalf of the Democratic party said, “because Republicans buy sneakers too.”  That’s really good advice.  There’s no need to alienate half of your potential customers because you have some political itch to scratch.  Customers don’t care.  And the ones who disagree with you won’t argue, they’ll just go somewhere else.

So while none of us can agree on whether this election was a success or a disaster, I think we can all agree that their are things more important than elections.  So take these five non-political lessons to heart.  It won’t help your depression or dampen your enthusiasm in the wake of Campaign 2010, but they might just make your business more successful.

Hope this helps you out.

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