When Tea Party-backed candidates upset many mainstream favorites in the Republican senate primaries, it sent shockwaves through the Republican Party. How did the Tea Party, a grassroots anti-tax, anti-government movement that has no hierarchy, no centralized organization and no designated leader become such a political force?
“There was no way the Tea Party movement could have grown as deep and as wide as it has without social media and digital technology,” Christina Botteri, a founding member of the National Tea Party and a former PR director who sometimes serves as media spokesperson for the organization, told PRWeek.
Born out of Twitter exchanges between many frustrated, like-minded conservatives in 2008, today the movement is self-organized at the national and local level with websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Supporters have used the social media channels to organize hundreds of rallies across the country to protest excessive government spending and endorse candidate alternatives.
“Another smart decision we made was to tell people coming to a Tea Party rally to bring their digital cameras,” Botteri said. “We needed to take pictures and videos and post them online because otherwise it would be like the events didn't happen. We knew the media, if they covered the events at all, wouldn't cover it properly.”
She also noted that, for the most part, PR is decentralized to the hundreds of Tea Party groups across the country.
“We have individuals like myself who have an understanding of media, but the majority of groups are just organized by regular people,” said Botteri.