The PR That Fuels Election Day

By Scott Signore

Fall is fully upon us – and there’s no looking back now. The leaves have fallen from the trees and the clocks are set back marking an earlier end to the light of day.  It’s playoff time for high school sports – the undefeated girls soccer team here in Newburyport seems to be on a particular roll – plans are being made for Thanksgiving, and our cities and towns are full of signs encouraging us to cast a vote in one direction or another. It’s election day here in Newburyport and all across this dynamite country.

Here are five ways that a political election is like our day job:

First, all political campaigns are about influencing decision-makers. A vote cast for a preferred candidate equates to action by a member of a key audience. Our PR programs are designed to reach those whose opinions will be swayed, and so is the intention of all campaign efforts. The seemingly endless volume of advertisements, editorials and yard signs are all for exposure and influence – sound familiar?

Second, impactful messaging is key to success. I consistently remind our clients that smartly laying the ground-work in advance of programmatic execution should be a priority. Politicians across our Commonwealth similarly sit with advisors, family and friends in war rooms, breakfast diners and every spot in between sharing their messages based on key care-abouts. Like we do for our clients, these opportunistic politicians determine what they want to communicate, to who and how.

Third, connecting face-to-face still matters. While the PR category has evolved, we haven’t lost sight of the power of connecting in person – with clients, customers, media and business partners. The bulk of what we do is electronic, but a typical relationship highlight is a first handshake or dinner and drinks at the end of a long planning day. So much of what we do can be done remotely – we live it daily – but the power of in-person dialogue is stronger than ever.   Candidates spend time, energy and money on air cover for their campaign – then they go with gusto. They shake hands – a lot of hands.  And, during that process the interpersonal connecting allows for the exchange of information, as well as meaningful and potentially vote-swaying moments between candidates and constituents.

Fourth, it’s a measurable program. Like the qualitative and quantitative metrics we establish at the start of our client programs, results will be tallied. Election committees won’t need to collect brand sentiment or key message pull through, but it’s aligned to the way we work: we define the intent of a program, and measure throughout.

Fifth, it’s a lot of hard work. Recently I shared with a small group that my agency’s time having fun – celebrating wins or the end of a long week – is discussed far more often than the many long hours of work put toward the project that resulted in that particular outcome. Being a top-notch PR person takes a lot of work, and I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many smart and savvy  professionals who are dedicated to the success of their clients. It’s hard work. And, so is campaigning for office – in any state or county in this nation. It’s a serious commitment, no matter the sought-after office. It’s energy and effort at all hours of the day and in the week, and it distracts from other serious priorities. It’s a serious sacrifice.

Be certain to vote today and no matter the candidate of your choice, I suggest taking a moment to reflect on the luxury we citizens have as we, collectively, get to choose our leaders. And, best of luck to those elected officials who will greet a number of new “clients” beginning tomorrow morning.