Combined with the rapid rise in technology and countless outlets available to people today, companies are finding it harder and harder to effectively communicate with their target audiences. Public relations professionals are constantly on the lookout for new strategies they can take to their clients with the hopes of crafting more effective communication strategies. One surprising place to find these is in politics.
The 2016 presidential election is proving to be a hotbed of new strategies and trends to reach changing audiences. And with the first Republican debate only three weeks away, we have already witnessed a new emphasis on how campaigns plan on communicating with American voters: through their mobile devices.
Politico’s chief media reporter Dylan Byer has already dubbed the 2016 presidential race as the Mobile Election, stating the “mobile reality is changing the state of news and advertising, and it will also change the dynamic of American politics.”
A recent report from the Pew Research Institute found that roughly 2/3 of Americans owned a smartphone in 2014, jumping from 35 percent in 2011. Sixty-eight percent of smartphone owners now use their phone to follow along with breaking news events.
Seeing this drastic change in mobile consumption, campaigns are beginning to implement strategies exclusively targeted toward Americans and their obsession with their phones.
- Using mobile data to micro-target users: As more and more people, not just millennials, are becoming fully engrossed with online and mobile technology, the resulting data and analytics are allowing candidates to tailor messaging in very specific ways. Campaigns are using this data to target very specific voting groups with ads they might care about more deeply than others. This can translate into allowing companies to gather large amounts of data about their customers, creating campaigns with unique messaging depending on an individual’s likes and dislikes.
- Use of Snapchat: Both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, two early front-runners of the 2016 election, utilized the “live story” feature to showcase photos and videos highlighting their campaign announcements. An extremely popular app among the millennial generation, with an estimated 100 million daily users, the Snapchat “live story” feature allows companies and organizations to create a community feeling at a large-scale event or announcement. Beyond Clinton and Bush, other candidates have established their own Snapchat accounts, allowing users to follow candidates on a day-to-day basis, as well as connect at a more personal level.
- Mobile video ads: 1 in 10 tablet and smartphone users watch video on their devices every day, and the number is only expected to increase this year. Technologies such as the aforementioned Snapchat and Vine, have gotten consumers used to watching short videos – in some case six seconds or less. It will be interesting to see how candidates will use these videos to not just showcase daily campaign life, but to generate campaign donations and votes on election day.
Smartphones have already worked themselves into the fabric of everyday life for a large majority of Americans. Public relations professionals should follow this upcoming presidential election closely, to gain insights on how to best capitalize on new and growing technologies.
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