Three PR Lessons from the Campaign Trail

May 19, 2016 Jackie D'Andrea

Regardless of whom you support this election cycle – #ImWithHer, #FeeltheBern, #MakeAmericaGreatAgain or #thirdparty – each of the candidates has shown us how to, and how not to, run a campaign. Not surprisingly, a lot of their successes and missteps can be applied in the world of PR.

Here are three lessons we’ve learned from the candidates that can be applied to PR programs:

1. Avoid Mudslinging

The candidates have given us a great lesson in what not to do. As Heather Bliss called out in a recent blog post, name calling leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. That extends to talking about another company’s products and services, not just executives. Depending on your industry, competition can be fierce and comparisons will likely be made between your offerings and those of your competitors. Don’t let yourself be pulled into a conversation with a reporter, customer or analyst in which you openly criticize what someone else is doing. Focus on the benefits you provide instead. One negative quote about your competition can easily overshadow everything positive said about your company. 

2. Stay On Message 

Just as the candidates have their platforms and causes they continually talk to – healthcare, education, immigration, etc. – you too should follow the same strategy when it comes to public personas. Hanna Heycke's blog post called out the importance of staying on message in your social channels. and this is true across the board. Whether it is a byline in a top tier publication, a social media post, a blog post on your website or a quote in an article, make sure your key messages are not only clear and consistent but also realistic and relevant to your core audiences.

3. Know Your Audience – And What They Care About

Thought leadership platforms are important to branding, and serve as a guide as to topics to cover. But bear in mind that not every topic carries equal weight with your audiences. For instance, at the Democratic debate in Michigan, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders focused on saving the auto industry and corporate bailouts, the pieces of their platforms that resonated most with those voting in that state. The same thought process applies when speaking with the press. Don’t send your CEO to talk with the tech trades unless he can get down into the weeds with a reporter, and don’t send your network ops guy to talk with the business press about a funding round.

Be authentic in your communication and stay above the fray and  you have a good chance of winning #bigly.

Topics: Brand, Media Relations, Messaging, Client Relations
Jackie D'Andrea

Jackie’s passion for storytelling and eye for detail help her stay ahead of her clients’ needs across several industries, from higher education to security and tech. She’s responsible for knowing what’s hot in her clients’ industries, where the next opportunity lies, and what clients need before they ask. She thrives on the relationships she builds and is always looking for new ways to tell her clients’ stories.

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