I will never forget the day Barack Obama got elected as President in 2008 because it was the first year I was able to use my power as an American citizen to vote. It was a historical moment for the country, especially as millennials yearned for change and social media use started to take off. As we approach November 3rd, I’m keenly aware that this election is happening in an entirely different and more polarized era. How should brands navigate what we predict to be a very cluttered and unusual earned media and social media climate? Should they go silent?
Let’s first consider the rise in consumer lifestyle reporting on lighthearted topics tied to cultural moments like the election. These outlets understand that their readers are millennial and Gen Z consumers and that they must find a way to report on election-related coverage in a way that relates to these generations – and complements their news beat. Consider Refinery29’s latest fashion story entitled “Give Back Voter Merch to Shop This Election Season.” So, editorial opportunities do in fact exist for brands.
We should also take note that political content is consuming social media right now, in part due to the President’s use of Twitter. Media outlets are even covering the public’s response to his tweets and other political news as standalone articles. For instance, The NY Post reported on “The Best Twitter Reactions to the First Trump-Biden Presidential Debate.”
Here are some tips on how marketers can navigate these new waters:
Be prepared for “news jacking” and cleverly capitalize on the news cycle
- Brands can ride the wave and cleverly insert themselves into this cultural moment. Some may even consider “news jacking.” One of my favorite examples from the last presidential election is when my team and I represented Etch A Sketch and the brand developed a “Shake it Up America” campaign as a result of the comment from Mitt Romney’s campaign aid who remarked that his campaign can reset like an Etch A Sketch (see CNN story). It resulted in a deluge of press for the brand.
- Bisquick’s Twitter post “Make America Pancakes Again, #VotePancakes was clever, neutral and timely.
Be Patriotic- Not Political
- Now more than ever, brands are doing their part by offering employees incentives and creating impactful campaigns to encourage Americans to vote. A few examples include Foot Locker’s transformation of 2,000 of its retail stores across the U.S. to Under Armour’s “Run to Vote” initiative and Live Nation’s partnership with Lebron James’ “More Than a Vote” campaign.
- Snapchat Helped Register a Million Voters Ahead of 2020 Election
- Fashion Brands are Eschewing Neutrality Around the Election
- How Brands are Getting Voters to the Polls and Mailboxes
Prepare for the unexpected and avoid taking a political stand
Be mindful of guilt by association. Media interviews with talent can go sour quickly if spokespeople or influencers representing your brand start to share their personal political views.
If your executives or spokespeople are actively doing interviews, it is essential that they can answer and pivot from questions like these
- Who are you voting for?
- What do you think of the President’s recent remarks?
- What impact will the election results have on your business?
M Booth’s MediaConnectors team is actively helping clients navigate the election time period.
For more information, please contact me at Nicoleg@mbooth.com.
Nicole Gresh, Director of Media Relations.