Presidential elections push the envelope of communications

There's a reason politics is often credited as the place where the most cutting-edge and innovative communications strategies and techniques are invented.

There's a reason politics is often credited as the place where the most cutting-edge and innovative communications strategies and techniques are invented.

Election campaigns represent Communications Max. There is no other environment where it happens in such a concerted time period in a high-profile and mass-market context.

The Clinton campaign in 1992 was credited as the first to truly recognize the impact of cable television and tailor communications toward it. Since then, the nature of media - and especially social media - has literally exploded. In 2012, it is Facebook and Twitter where the groundbreaking communications work is happening, not forgetting the impact of Super PACs on ad spends.

President Obama's team used social media extremely effectively when he was elected in 2008, which was especially useful in attracting the youth audience. But, this time around, Republicans suggest the Romney campaign is at least fighting its corner.

As we reach party convention season, a Pew Research Center study of the two candidates' social media activity suggests Obama is "outpacing" Romney because his team is posting a lot of content and is more active on platforms than Romney's team.

While Republicans concede Romney has seven times fewer followers than Obama, they say he attracts much more engagement - more people like, share, or talk about him. Democrats reply by saying of course more people talk about him, he is new - but they're talking in negative tones.

This back and forth between the two sides will continue ad nauseam until Election Day on November 6, in person, on TV, in the newspapers, and online. But, afterward, conclusions will be drawn and communicators will learn from it.

History shows the likes of Clinton aide Mark Penn, Steve Schmidt (McCain strategist, now Edelman), Dan Bartlett (George W. Bush comms director, now Hill+Knowlton), Kiki McLean (Hillary Clinton and Obama adviser, now Porter Novelli), and many others are the future senior agency execs who will shape wider communications developments once the political merry-go-round comes to a halt.

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