The 2012 Election Year PR Class is Now in Session

01 Nov The 2012 Election Year PR Class is Now in Session

 There’s no better time than an election year, particularly a presidential election year, for PR professionals to learn and refine their skills. I’m not referring to PR professionals who are working for candidates, but instead the rest of us in the industry who get to watch the candidates in action. It’s during election time you’ll never see a greater sampling of PR opportunities lost and won, crisis communications in full effect, awe inspiring media meltdowns, or the just plain bizarre. Christine O’Donnel’s “I’m not a witch” anyone?

In many ways it’s a great opportunity for the PR industry to raise its awareness and remind the rest of the world just how important our profession is to those in the public arena.  Of course, our industry will undoubtedly take the blame for many of those disasters too.

Over the next year we’re going to witness countless examples of public relations in full effect. Take notice. There are many lessons to be learned that can be applied to our everyday PR jobs. It will particularly be interesting to see the affect of social media on another major election.  Who will embrace it and who will (unwisely) ignore it? Already we have seen a baffling and great example of a viral video for presidential candidate Herman Cain— Take a look here.. Now regardless of your particular political affiliation, this begs the basic PR questions: Is the message presented clear and concise? Does it speak to your target audience? Does the video best represent your brand?  Is it compelling? Unique? Will people feel inspired and want to share it with others?  Even the most astute political pundits have been left baffled by the video’s message and what to make of the cigarette smoke and Cain’s creepy slow smile at the end.  But I assure you this is really just the first shot across the bow for our 2012 election. We’ll see many, many more examples from awkward debate responses to reputation destroying tweets.

Again, this is a great time for us to watch and learn for free. The political world is very, very tricky to successfully navigate and I give full credit to the PR pros whose job it is to advise their candidates and deal with the inevitable repercussions. For the rest of us, it’s a master class in public relations. And in this day and age many might argue that good PR is what wins elections more than any other deciding factor. Class is in session. Sit back, enjoy, and don’t forget to take notes!

Lee Dawson
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