R.I.P. Campaign Lawn Signs, Long Live Twitter
We’ve entered another political season. A season where yard signs are strewn across highway medians and exit ramps. A season where you’ll find paper blowing in the wind and mucking up the streets of your community.
I hate this time of year. As a die-hard politico, I always exercise my right to vote, but as a public relations professional (and a tree-hugger), I loathe yard signs. I mean, I really hate them. Like, seriously.
So when did my disdain start? I think I’ve always ‘felt some kind of way’ about pop-up advertisements. I’ve never liked ‘lost flyers’ taped to light posts, or ‘carpet cleaning for $59’ signs taped on power line poles, mainly because they are distracting, hard-to-decipher, and an eyesore. Plus, who is going to clean that mess up?
When it comes to political yard signs, I cringe. As a voter, I think that you think that I am stupid enough to vote via drive-by, and as a communicator, I think that you didn’t budget appropriately for a highly targeted mailer as your ‘get out the vote’ strategy.
You see, yard signs don’t vote. And they’re called yard signs because they are supposed to be in someone’s yard. So when I see them on the street, I get turned off.
Additionally, with the creation and utilization of digital tools, why are politicians (and would-be politicians) still sinking their budgets into analog tools? Who are the old school folks that are advising them about how to win elections in today’s changing political landscape?
President Obama’s 2008 campaign presented a shift in voter outreach tactics. The Obama campaign used social media networks, ads on gaming systems, and purchased a static TV channel on Dish Network. This blueprint for digital campaigns was created and ready to be duplicated. But surprisingly in 2013, candidates for elected office are still signing up on Facebook with profiles instead of fan pages. (Or creating Pinterest accounts with no pins. #WhereTheyDoThatAt? #OhEverywhere.)
Interestingly enough, I correlate how politicians runs their campaigns with how they’ll govern. If you aren’t using all available tools and resources to engage with your constituents during a run for elected office, you likely won’t use open source and open government tools during your service. Moreover, as an elected official, you probably are involved in budgeting for education and social impact efforts. If you aren’t on board with digital tools that your constituents use today, how can you plan for their children’s tomorrow?
So, I am going to need to you get it together, people. I am going to need you to ratchet down the yard signs and pick up a Samsung tablet. Log in to Twitter and search your city to see what voters are really talking about. Next, I am going to need to you be proactive and seek out a social media consultant in your area and bring them on staff (yes, pay them!) because they have already laid the groundwork for GOTV via their networks. Lastly, I need you to see the value in digital networks. You may think that they are “free” and therefore of little value. But Pew Research Center (you do like research don’t you?) tells us that 72% of US adults are using online networks. A few of them have to be voters right?