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Let’s Get Political

Posted: January 27, 2015, 3:37 p.m.
by Sadie Schwarm.

The best campaigns are the ones we lose. From a public relations standpoint, this perspective seems misguided. Is it even possible to lose a public relations campaign? Let’s clarify the term “campaign” by comparing a few essential parts of two completely different operations: the 2012 presidential campaigns and the #LikeAGirl campaign by Always.

photo by (flickr)
photo provided by oligarh2 (Flickr)

The goal

Political: The goal is to win. This may be oversimplified, but the goal is to gain support from voters in order for a candidate to win an election. The Romney and Obama campaigns focused on two candidates in an arms race. The mindset is to tally up the votes; if you lose, shake it off and try again next term.

PR: The goal is to spread awareness, change an attitude or belief, or to maintain a reputation. For example, the #LikeAGirl campaign sends powerful messages to girls in order to eliminate gender stereotypes; every “vote” counts. Every person who gains awareness from the campaign matters. In this scenario, Casper is the opponent; he is there, but invisible. You have to determine the victory on your own terms.

The defense

Political: Commonly, opponents ambush each other with negative media and campaign ads. Candidates must respond when constantly targeted by their opposition. If you don’t speak for yourself, someone else will. Dig through your mail from the 2012 election cycle, and you may see what looks like, well, war.

PR: With the exception of crisis communications, normally offense is the name of the game. Some may say #LikeAGirl plays defense because it defies stereotypes, but as a whole, the campaign is not strictly one-on-one. All participants in the #LikeAGirl campaign play a crucial role in spreading the message.

photo by (Flickr)
photo provided by (Flickr)

The cash

Political: Fundraising is a must. A successful political campaign cannot run without a steady and rather hefty flow of cash; whether this is fair or not is widely debated. Political fundraising should not be taken lightly, especially considering the emergence of PACs. The 2012 race was the most expensive presidential election ever, with both Obama and Romney exceeding the $1 billion mark. Basically, the “common person” would have to sell 200 million boxes of Thin Mints in order to get on the ballot.

PR: Some PR campaigns can get by without a ton of fundraising. Using the hashtag #LikeAGirl may not be quite as expensive as entering an election. Here, costs for PR services are paid for by the client. In this case, you may not have to sell those 200 million boxes of Thin Mints after all.

The #LikeAGirl campaign and the 2012 presidential campaigns have similarities, as well as distinct differences. Maybe, the best political campaigns are losses, because then it is apparent where the message went astray. Afterward, that message can be strategically managed for the next campaign cycle. So, if a loss is a win and a win is a win, then we are all Always empowered, #LikeAGirl.

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