Social media determining the election?

Social media determining the election?

By: Donald Smith



This week there was an article written on NPR’s website saying how fake news on Facebook could have been a deciding factor in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton this past election. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, is currently denying the possibility of Facebook’s ability to influence the election one way or the other. Although this claim is getting increasingly difficult as even Trump said on CBS’ 60 Minutes that Facebook and social media were key factors in his victory.

“The White House,” By @WhiteHouse

So, how does this impact governmental public relations? It will make them have to create a team specifically for social media. The reason is because this election cycle was only a preview for what is going to come in a few more cycles.

Going back to 2012, there was a study published showing Facebook feeds having a significant impact on the electorate’s voting patterns. The finding indicated certain messages increased voter turnout approximately by 340,000 votes. Then in 2015 research from Ipsos MORI showed the potential impact social media would have on those between the ages of 18 to 24 years old. In the research they found more than a third of 18 to 24 year olds responded that reading information on social media would influence their vote choice. Lastly, another study found that 41 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 25 participated in some kind of political activity online. Some examples of this would be sharing political videos or tweeting about political happenings.

Here is the kicker. According to an article on Pew Research Millennials, who were 18 to 34 years old as of 2015, outnumber the previous largest generation the Baby Boomers, who were 51 to 69 years old in 2015. From the data stated earlier it would seem social media is the way to Millennials, the generation who will start to lead the electorate within a few election cycles.

Thus, we could see social media being the leader in governmental public relations campaigns, not traditional media, in the near future. Hope your politician already has a Twitter handle.


Did relationships matter?

By: Donald Smith



This election has been the one to break all molds and previous held theories for politics possible. The one I find myself mulling over the most though pertains to my future career, public relations.

In this election President-elect Donald Trump went through his campaign slashing

“Handshake,” by Telegraph

through anyone in his way. This list included celebrities who spoke out against him, his fellow Republican president nominees during the primaries, Democrat president
nominees, the media and many others. Here is a list New York Times made compiling all of the people, places and things Trump’s campaign insulted through Twitter. Along with his Twitter campaigning were PR catastrophes such as the feud with former Miss America Alicia Machado, when he appeared to mock reporter Serge Kovaleski who is diagnosed with arthrogryposis, or the latest video on his “locker room” talk about grabbing women.

Now, I am not here to bash Trump, although it may appear so. The reason I bring this up is because relationships are important for candidates running for elections, especially presidential elections. They are what help secure funding and votes. However, because of Trump’s list of trips and spills he caused alienation among Republican, women, minority and LGBQT voters. The alienation shows how Trump lost many relationships throughout his campaign. Yet, he still won, by a fairly large margin as well; 290 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 228.

So, I am left wondering if public relations and relationships mattered in this campaign. Turns out they were essential, but in a strange mix of modern and classic ways. The classic aspect is we are going back to Phineas T. Barnum’s definition of public relations where any publicity is good publicity. Then the modern aspect is the use of Twitter and social-media’s impact on public perception.

Two months after Trump announced his campaign for presidency in August 2015 New York Times released an article showing his Twitter numbers. He had been mentioned in 6.3 million conversations, which was eight times as many as any other Republican candidate and three times as many as the Democratic candidates. Then he was retweeted more than twice as often as Clinton and 13 times more often than Jeb Bush. His Twitter account had 4.36 million followers. Then by October 2016 his Twitter account had 12.2 million followers, almost tripling in size.

Next, because social-media almost simulates an one-on-one conversation with those one follows, including celebrities who are usually thought to be far out of societal reach, it creates a feeling of intimacy with said people. This is where Trump excelled. Instead of trying to create a loose relationship with most Americans he created an intimate relationship with a strong core of Americans. And continued to increase this audience by creating a stir with his PR controversies to draw people’s attention. As stated earlier, any publicity is good publicity in this election.

Therefore, I reach the conclusion that not all relationships matter. At least not in this election. Then again this is the one election to flip all conventional beliefs on their head. The only way to tell would be to study elections with outcomes similar to this one.





Too much enthusiasm?

By: Donald Smith



A main objective of public relations material is to get your target publics excited about your company’s news. However, is it possible to be too excited and use too many exclamation points? It would seem other PR professionals say yes.

Exclamation points are generally used to communicate excitement and joy. But an

“Use Me Properly,” Grammarly

important note to remember is not every piece of communication calls for excitement. For example, a reminder about a networking mixer, which is held monthly is run-of-the-mill news and is not bringing any innovative knowledge. Therefore, it is not something to constantly bring excitement to, unless there is a novel aspect brought to it.

In a Business Insider article it was stated that in early March the United Kingdom’s Department of Education set new guidelines for exclamation points in its national standardized tests. The new guidelines are students will only be given credit when using exclamation points in certain sentences such as those beginning with “what” and “how.”

PR professionals’ views are similar to the UK’s in that we need to curb our usage of exclamation points to increase its effectiveness, as well as the professionalism of certain PR materials such as the press release.

Vertical Response’s blog says press releases are a formal company announcement and require professionalism of the highest degree. It compares press releases to accredited and renowned publications such as Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek. Then says how one would not find an arbitrary exclamation point in them, so why put one inside a company’s press release.

Then in Hughes PR’s blog it gives a couple of measures to determine whether or not an exclamation point is appropriate. Several measures are: is the message exciting to the target audience; is the message emotional; is the message surprising; is the style of the communication causal or formal; and what is the personality and voice of the organization?

Lastly, a PR Daily article gives another six guidelines to using exclamation points.

  • Use sparingly to ensure effective when used.
  • One is enough, using three does not make it more urgent.
  • Do not combine it with other punctuation marks, like question marks.
  • Consider the context and the purpose of the communication.
  • Use if you are being personal.
  • Show your enthusiasm, if it is sincere.

Now, get out there and make those exclamation points more effective!