Political public relations are definitely not a piece of cake. A changing environment, living under a constant spotlight, paying close attention to every word – that’s the reality of politicians’ lives.
Politicians play a notable role in society, which makes everything even more challenging for them. They can fall victim to PR catastrophes at the slightest misstep, therefore, public relations managers must constantly monitor news stories and be ready to react quickly.
What can be done to improve their work and make politicians feel more secure?
Here are our suggestions that should (or we hope so!) enhance politicians’ reputations and protect them against potential hazards.
Political PR vs. Political Marketing: what is the difference?
Before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s distinguish between terms that are frequently used interchangeably. What determines the differences between political PR and political marketing?
Public relations is a business tool that often gets confused with marketing or advertising, not just in the case of politics. The two are related but are also very different at the same time.
The main difference? The purpose of marketing is to understand and predict the needs and wants of critical audiences and locate mutually satisfactory solutions. Marketers’ efforts are focused on promotion and selling.
In contrast, PR is the process by which a politician seeks to influence, establish, build, and maintain beneficial relationships with their key stakeholders to support their mission and realize their goals. That is why PR managers are responsible for keeping their public image positive.
Summed up, political public relations is the strategic perspective that focuses on engagement, complemented by marketing actions.
However, if it is not enough for you, and you don’t want to this topic keeps secrets from you, we suggest reading ➡️ Everything you Need to Know About Political PR.
How to streamline political public relations?
The truth is brutal. Political PR, no matter how hard you try, never will be easy to manage. A politician always has to take one side, so those on the other side will almost certainly hold a different opinion or do everything they can to find something unfavorable or damaging. The world of politics is sink or swim.
Nevertheless, we know some tips and strategies that should help you manage political public relations. Consider these tips to improve your client’s reputation and to make your entire political PR campaign even more thoughtful and strategic, and therefore – easier.
1) Know the electors
Like with usual PR actions, you have to know the audience, and in the case of politics, the audience is electors. They will be the primary recipients of your messages. Therefore, understanding and segmenting your audiences is key to achieving the impact that you want.
Each of them is different – some can be reached by press and TV, others by social media. So whatever you do, keep your audience in mind.
2) Know the opposing party
There is no difference between the competition and the opposite party. They are the same thing. As a PR manager, you need to keep an eye on what other politicians are doing. Keep researching – it is an integral part of public relations management as it enables you to determine strategies. Take inspiration from the PR campaigns of the opposing party (and take any opportunity to learn from your opponents’ mistakes).
3) Have a plan
Politics is unforgiving, so there is no room for reckless moves. It’s better to have a plan A, plan B, and even plan C, D and E. Make sure you clearly define the main deliverables and how to measure success. Planning will enable you to find a quick solution to a problem, which is crucial when dealing with political public relations.
4) Focus on long-term goals
As mentioned before, PR relies on a strategic perspective, so you should plan your actions from a long-term perspective. Set a goal that will lead your campaign and keep all your efforts on track. This will help you stay on the path and not waste both time and voters’ trust.
5) Measure PR performance
Politicians invest considerable money into political public relations campaigns. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these campaigns is essential. Unfortunately, there is no single quantitative way of measuring a campaign’s success, so measuring its impact remains a highly controversial and difficult topic. Nevertheless, we recommend taking a closer look at such metrics as, e.g., media impressions, keyword rankings, website traffic, and social media reach.
6) Work as a team
As people say, two, or more, heads are better than one. This is why you should consult with other members of a politician’s team – their advisors – before taking any action.
Even better is when the politician prepares a team responsible for PR actions during a crisis. Having experts in such a team increases the chances of the politician’s reputation remaining unharmed, even during times of big trouble.
7) Use social media
In today’s political world, social media is a necessity. It is crucial for a politician’s image to keep in touch with electors, providing critical updates, and exchange their opinions with others.
However, they should remember to consult any actions with advisors and PR managers, otherwise, ill-considered words can potentially cause a catastrophe. What’s even more challenging, is that damage caused by actions on the Internet can easily grow to take on a massive scale.
8) Create compelling content
Social media is a representative part of a politician’s work. If you want to bring people closer to a politician, their account should also have more personal content – e.g. their evening jogs or their precious animals. In opening up a politician’s private life, followers will be more willing to watch the account, and the politician will be able to show a more human side.
9) Get a website
A website is an integral part of PR. Websites will allow electors to get one-stop information about the politician’s actions, find out what they do, or how to contact them. Remember about SEO – to ensure that you appear at the top of the search rankings.
10) Take note of special dates
Remember some significant dates in the life of the community. These can be essential anniversaries or awareness days for certain charities such as Save the Children, or Cancer Awareness. With content designed around these particular days, a politician can demonstrate to the public their commitment to social issues.
11) Have the right tools
This tip facilitates political public relations directly. The PR manager can automate their daily work using tools such as social media management, analytics, etc., and focus on other vital tasks.
Look for a tool that fulfills your primary needs. There are a lot of tools already available on the market, so you can be sure that such a solution already exists, so you just need to look for it!
12) Include monitoring in your PR
Imagine a tool that alerts you every time a politician is mentioned online. There is no doubt that this is a solution that can have a significant impact on PR management.
A tool like Mediatoolkit lets you know about every article, hashtag, or comment mentioning the politician or their party. What’s more, it automatically detects the tone of the sentiment; negative, positive, or neutral. Thanks to this automated sorting, you’ll be able to find the content faster by its relevance, and you won’t miss anything important.
13) Find an experienced spokesperson
While most PR work revolves around team efforts, one person needs to deal with all of the uncomfortable questions. Make sure there is someone who can juggle words efficiently and has the ability to work their way out of any awkward situation. All media-related releases need to be directed to this chosen spokesperson.
14) Keep in touch with journalists
Building relationships with the media and journalists is important for creating a positive image and reputation in political public relations. Although networking is a difficult and time-consuming task, having such a network of journalists allows the distribution of your message to spread more quickly. Having a solid relationship with the media can pay off over time.
15) Hold events
Taking part in debates, conferences, and other events where politicians must appear is integral to political public relations. These events are an excellent opportunity for politicians to present their initiatives and activities and show that they are actively involved in social life.
16) Be transparent
The public is becoming ever more skeptical of politicians’ speeches and promises. That is why if all politicians’ activities become transparent, it streamlines the PR process a lot. Therefore, ensure that your messages are transparent and straightforward – insinuations, misrepresentations, twisting of the truth; all of these things can negatively impact PR.
17) Engage the audience
The politician should ask questions, debate, do whatever it takes to create a community, and encourage people to engage in discussions. Nevertheless, they always have to be careful not to let a heated discussion turn into a PR scandal.
18) Know how to talk to the younger generation
Young people are the future of society. They are the ones who make the first choices at the polls, and often they are much more conscious than more experienced voters who usually stick to what they’re used to. Therefore it is also worthwhile to direct PR activities to this target audience.
19) Be a guest speaker of YouTube videos and podcasts
Leaders in politics should accept opportunities such as being guest speakers on podcasts. But why? The podcast format is becoming extremely popular and attracts millions of listeners. They provide an opportunity for politicians to be more personal and on message.
So, in addition to the usual venues like TV, radio, newspapers, etc., politicians are increasingly appearing in ‘new’ media, like Youtube videos. By doing so, they are able to reach the young generation faster (a key point we touched on earlier)
20) Be prepared for a crisis
The politician has to be prepared for the worse. Having “emergency plans” makes managing political public relations easier. Regardless of what happens, the PR manager should know what to do first to prevent making the situation worse.
21) Take systematic actions
Public relations managers should keep an eye on public sentiment at all times (and once again, we need to recommend Mediatoolkit’s real-time sentiment monitoring here) and seek to increase its impact within specific environments and on certain social groups. They should also find gaps to modify the election program according to changes and public preferences, and see what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve it.
22) Create a press kit
It is always advisable for politicians to carry around a press kit whenever they are giving a press conference, doing an interview, or participating in an event. Their press kit should include all the most relevant information and media contact details. Politicians can use this to prepare for any scenario.
23) Integrate PR with other communications strategies
Integration is key to successful outreach. With the help of public relations, make sure to provide consistent messaging to ensure its effectiveness. Integrating PR with all other communication elements is vital to achieving a cohesive whole.
Face off with it
An effective public relations campaign should create a positive perception of a politician’s actions. Therefore, you should streamline your efforts, attempt to prevent crises, but be also able to react, plan, and systematically analyze and shape the image.
There are many tasks to do. So give yourself a hand and streamline your daily routine.
Why not start by using tools that were designed for managing PR? Use the Mediatoolkit free trial and see how monitoring and tracking the Internet can help you with productivity and effectiveness.
Do you want to be notified as soon as something unexpected is happening? You don’t have to look far for a solution.