PRSA leadership on Election Day, PR and more

Nov 9, 2016
PRSA leadership on Election Day, PR and more

The day we've been anxiously waiting for is finally here.

Election Day 2016.

At the PRSA International Conference last month, I had the chance to chat with PRSA Board Chair Mark McClennan, APR and Chair Elect Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA about the election, as well as upcoming PRSA initiatives.

Interview with PRSA Board Chair Mark McClennan, APR

Inteview with PRSA Chair Elect Jane Dvorak, APR

1. It's been a very heated election year. How can we as communications professionals leverage current hot topics for potential media coverage for our clients and companies? Are there any pitfalls around doing so?

Tying into current events and trending topics can be a way to bring greater awareness to a business or cause.

Before you jump into such an opportunity, though, you need to be sure there’s a logical link back to your brand and mission. Hot topics may be tempting, but can also be precarious if there isn’t connection to your business. The DiGiornio’s tweet is one such example. These kinds of opportunities require planning even when you’re working in the moment. There is always the risk that the it could cause more damage than good for your company or organization. The better understanding you have of the issue and topic, the more likely you are to have success in these kinds of campaigns.

Here’s an example of how leveraging the election was tied successfully to a brand.

2. Any tips for media relations during election week? Should we halt pitching all together?

While the election will dominate the news media, that doesn’t mean it is the only news to be covered.

If you have a really good story to tell, you can stand out from the mass of election coverage. I still believe you need to think strategically and plan your media pitch to reach the appropriate reporter or news outlet with your story. A good PR person will be able to discern the reach, scope and impact of their story and when best to pitch to the media. It’s that presence of mind of what is happening, the timing that can make a difference in when and who to pitch your story to.

3. Social media has played a massive role in this election, especially during the debates. Can you share how you think social media may impact the outcome of the election? What makes this year different from any other election year?

Social media and this election are like fire running rampant through a field of dried grass.

Candidates are using the platform to share opinions, drive conversation and deliver facts. Links to fact checkers are as widespread as the posts themselves. Social media is amplifying the disparity of views in this election. Individuals who may not be fully informed may have an influence on the general public’s perception of the issues. People are following like-minded individuals and running the risk of not hearing both sides of an issue.

This is where true journalism provides a service to the public by giving an unbiased view of issues and facts. In the social media realm, the information is often siloed because people navigate to groups, connections, hashtags and feeds that support and corroborate their views. 

With this election we’re seeing the impact of social media bleeding over into traditional media as reporters use these platforms to identify story ideas, trending discussions and perceptions of public opinion. It’s clear that social media will continue to play a role in political races into the future. How it will evolve and continue to impact the outcome is yet to be seen.

It’s a round-the-clock platform to reach voters and more and more data is revealing that social media is the place where the public is getting their information on candidates and political issues.  People are more likely to interact on social media than in past elections, having an impact on how much sharing, liking, reposting, retweeting is extending the news cycle for these trending topics. There are millions of Twitter users and Facebook has crossed into billions of users.  That kind of reach and potential impact is astronomical.

PR pros- what do you think? Is there an opportunity for communicators around the election?

Natan Edelsburg is currently the EVP at Sawhorse Media where he helps run Muck Rack ( and the Shorty Awards ( He also writes about and watches a lot of TV (on many different devices).


About the author

COO, @MuckRack & @ShortyAwards; Executive Editor @FoundRemote. Watcher of every TV show.

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