Communications in politics: what's the point?
Communication work, as we know it, is extremely broad and useful in many aspects. Politics always gets a bad rap and labeled “dirty” for its use of communication strategy seeming disingenuous. But, politics affects everything and everyone. It is extremely important for a politician and their team to use strategic communication or else important messages will get lost and be ineffective.
It is extremely important for politicians to stay on message, maintain consistency online, and pay attention to relevant issues. This can be hard when a politician, whether they are local or Congressional, is constantly in meetings and unable to be 100% present with the state of the nation and the news. This is where the importance of a strategic communications staff comes in. Daily updates, strategic planning, social media monitoring, press releases, and website management are constantly being communicated for maximum efficiency in the office and in their respective districts, states, or localities.
It comes down to this: Communications work is essential in politics not only for a politician but for The People. Representative accountability has now taken a new atmosphere online. A politician’s presence is now needed to respond and interact with the public via social media to maintain relevancy and transparency.
This new public sphere for debate and information is rapidly changing. A fresh approach to political communications work came to the forefront because of this, and we now have a new online space for political discourse. The resulting communication strategies of this are similar to the kind within the general public relations field.
Within political campaigns, specifically, there is a major emphasis on targeting individuals to bring awareness and eventually create a behavior or opinion change. Public relations practitioners take a similar approach and apply it to their clients.
The news media also plays a major role in this political communication function. Airing ads, posting stories online, airing press conferences, and creating talk shows, it has become an even larger agenda-setting machine within politics. This serves political figures well in creating news, directly speaking to their constituents, and reaching undecided voters.
Though political communication is not the traditional routine that a Public Relations professional follows, it is important to understand its use in our democratic society. Without the accountability and transparency The People demand, who can we trust to lead us?