How social media is changing politics

Stacy and Amy with President Obama

Our keynote address for the PRSSA National Conference was delivered by Jim Margolis, Senior Partner of GMMB and the “Obama Media Man.”

Margolis was inspiring, and by far my favorite part of the conference. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for President Obama in the 2008 presidential election, you have to admit that Margolis created a brilliant media campaign.

He started his speech by talking about the current political climate, which can be summed up in one word – harsh. Two-thirds of Americans think that the country is going in the wrong direction, and in this climate, emotion trumps intellect.

Margolis then went on to explain his work on the Obama campaign, and why it was so successful.

First, the moment was right. Obama laid the grounds for his candidacy during his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was the right candidate with the right messages and the right resources – just what our country was looking for.

Next, the campaign came up with three strategic imperatives: own change, focus relentlessly on the economy, and reassure voters about Obama. They used these strategies to drive the entire campaign.

These strategies lead us to tactics. Margolis used three tactics for the campaign: expand the electorate, embrace technology, and create a movement.

This is where social networking comes into play. We’ve all heard of the power of the internet before – that’s nothing new. But the internet was around during the 2004 election, whereas social networks were not. Their campaign was revolutionized through online donors, video, websites and even an iPhone application. These technologies allowed citizens to be part of a MOVEMENT.

The iPhone application allowed citizens to find people to call in key states to encourage them to vote. The application also allowed them to see how many others were making phone calls during a given time, how many phone calls had been made total, and how many phone calls the top caller had made. Political campaigns had never been so interactive – citizens got to take control of the campaign, and they could see the visible results that their efforts produced.

I had the opportunity to work on a political campaign this summer, albeit at the state level, and there was no where near as much interactivity as the Obama campaign. But with technology advancing every day it is unrealistic to expect the election process to return to the way it operated in the old days. It will be interesting to see how new advances in technology change the way the 2012 presidential election.

Amy Dobrzynski, Vice President



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