By Dr Nicos Antoniades (St. John’s University, New York)
Drawing on major tools of political communication, i.e., public relations (PR), media, advertising, and social media, a recent academic study (City University of New York, 2019) examined the impact of each tool on Americans.
Elected politicians from all over the USA made up the sample of the survey. Amongst other findings, and in contrast to political advertising (i.e., paid ads on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet) and the mainstream media (i.e., TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines), PR (i.e., rallies, press releases, conferences, party events, and forums) and social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) showed a significant positive impact on people’s voting decision. Further analysis showed that, unlike politicians from “other affiliations”, both Democrats and Republicans’ PR strategies have a negative impact on people’s perception towards them, whereas Democrats’ social media strategies also have a negative effect on people’s perception.
Based on these findings, the study suggests that the two major U.S. parties need to re-structure their PR strategies. Given the high number of abstentions, the results confirm that Americans are tired of today’s politics and the old-fashioned way of the traditional parties’ PR; several studies agree that people’s attention to several political issues is very limited. In the new era of technology, people need a role to play; PR and especially social media give people this opportunity; they put them at the center.
The study’s findings showed that Republican politicians and politicians coming from other affiliations have realized the influence of social media strategies on people. On the contrary, Democratic politicians have a long way to go; they need to develop more “people-centered” social media (and PR) strategies; and, they need to inform voters efficiently by sending the “right” message.