Before politicians – or any business for that matter – begin using multimedia channels to expand their messaging, it is important to ask why? While some seemingly have an objective with their social media activity, others are simply following the crowd. But just like one wouldn’t open a restaurant without a plan, or begin a campaign without a plan, politicians who want to begin using multimedia need to develop a purpose and use that as a means to establish unique goals.
A recent report found that national newspaper circulation fell 8.7 percent during a six month period ending March 31. This follows a 10.6 percent decline the previous reporting period. Consequently, social media sites such as Twitter have turned into such effective information disseminators, news organizations use them to stay abreast of developing stories – as this recent Guardian story discusses.
The news cycle is becoming increasingly saturated as citizens obtain their information from a variety of sources on the Web. In order for politicians to promote their legislative accomplishments, they must be proactive in utilizing new channels to disseminate information. Communications Directors who get a 30 second clip on the nightly news or a blurb in the local paper have completed half their job. Political communications is no longer about writing a press release and sending it to reporters, it is a retail business and the salesmen who are most effective in pushing concise messaging are the ones who will excel.
Interestingly, as much as traditional journalists decry the decline of true journalism, national media is increasingly allowing social media to dictate the story. How often have you gone on Politico or The Hill over the past few months and seen a story about a tweet gone awry or a blog post exposing a political scandal? Ignoring multimedia is akin to a football coach ignoring the forward pass.
But as much social media can negatively impact a political career, it also presents opportunity. Politicians, who create a message that resonates with the people and channels the power of the blogosphere, can gain an element of control over traditional news and incite national fervor.