With a media saturated environment and the accessibility to technology, it makes it challenging for a politician to hide; in fact, it’s impossible. Politics in the media includes news stories, opinion pieces, propaganda ads, and entertainment articles. With the entire public armed with cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other digital devices, any moment can turn into a paparazzi frenzy with the camera pointed directly at you.
As annoying as this might be for a politician, this level of coverage isn’t going to diminish any time soon. Political buzz is aimed at the following: to inform, to invoke emotions, to question what’s true and what’s false, and for propaganda. Political advertising isn’t anything new, but in the way we communicate has.
Politicians and their campaign managers are very strategic when it comes to what medium they use to convey different messages. Simply put, different mediums are targeted for different results. With all of the variety of how news is reported, politicians are having less control what is being aired and reported.
The way we see it is often very direct. Meaning whatever message is being pushed out is the message we receive. Very seldom does the audience look into what’s being communicated or "fact-check." We even rely on other mediums to do that for us. And for that reason alone, much of what is communicated can be manipulated, not all of it, but there’s certainly some foul-play going on.
While TV spots, news shows, and entertainment shows may have "politics" in common, the result is very different for each one. Politicians receive a wide range of opportunities and coverage when it comes to television. Campaign teams have more control when it comes to ad spots and commercials. During campaign season, we’ll see a lot of commercials either communicating a political message or more commonly, TV spots dedicated to "hurting" your opponent. Unfortunately, no matter how much false or misleading propaganda gets, if it wasn’t effective or relevant, it wouldn’t be around.
News coverage and news stories give politicians the chance to prepare and to have some control. We refer to live speeches, tour stops, speaking at events, etc. This does take a lot of preparation for politicians and their campaign team because not only do they need to perfect their speeches; they need to perfect their delivery. A message can be lost if the delivery is bad. (Not to mention, if the speech was bad, you can pretty much guarantee the public will watch it multiple times. Example: Governor Rick Perry’s Speech at New Hampshire)
Probably the more difficult forms of television that hurts a politician more so than any other TV coverage are opinion pieces. Some examples include the O’Reilly Factor (Playing Dirty in the Presidential Campaign) or the Colbert report (Mitt Romney’s Bold Running Mate Pick). While these spots are more entertaining, much of the content is taking out of context or exaggerated. However, several people still rely on these sources to sway their own opinions.
While the online world has transformed how we communicate and how we gather information, print is still relevant. Newspaper articles, magazine articles, print advertisements (signs, billboards, etc.) all still have an effect in the political arena. Each serves its own purpose.
Newspaper and magazine articles will vary just the same as television news shows. You’ll have opinion pieces in addition to actual news coverage. However, newspaper and magazine articles tend to have more credibility.
Print Advertisements: (Campaign signs, billboards, etc.)
Because print advertisements have limited space, these forms of ads are dedicated to quick facts (either about the politician or the opponent) and campaign messages. Print advertisements such as yard signs can easily camouflage with your opponents. Therefore, design is a key component to print ads. You have to be very strategic in the design and the message of your print ad to maximize memory retention in addition to make sure your message is received by the audience.
The online world has definitely changed the way politics is reported and the way the audience receives that information. Because there is no limit as to what can be said or where, there is an infinite amount of information, whether it’s true or false.
Fortunately, people are able to distinguish between "credible" resources and spam information. However, the on-line space (with the exception of news channel web sites) contains mostly opinion pieces and entertainment pieces. Politicians need to be wary of the use of on-line tools such as social networks and blogging. We’ve all know of Obama’s social success back in 2008, but not everyone can achieve that same level of success. Additionally, politicians have to be really careful about what they say and do. One bad moment can be, and will be repeated forever.
The important factor for every political campaign is to have a plan. Have a plan for every medium in which you decide to promote your message. Build and create strategies with your message and goals in mind.
TV advertisements aim at hurting your opponents’ credibility, building distrust in your opponent, conveying your politician’s main campaign message, and/or to invoke emotion.
TV news shows aim at reporting facts, building trust and credibility, and/or invoking emotion.
TV opinion shows aim at entertaining, exaggerating or taking content out of context, and to persuade opinions.
Print advertisements aim at to be quick and to the point, build association, and conveying campaign messages.
The online world aims at all the above.
And remember, it’s always wise to be a politician that not only acts, but reacts.