PR’s Role in Politics – Redefining and Expanding
BY WWPR | APRIL 21ST, 2015
The Role of Public Relations in Politics is a monthly column written by WWPR member Margaret Mulvihill, examining the role of PR in politics.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations
PR’s Changing Role in Politics
As each presidential hopeful declares their candidacy for the toughest job in the world, we are eagerly watching and waiting to see which of our colleagues get the nod. Ted Cruz, the first Republican to declare his intent, has chosen a good team – and that word ‘team’ is becoming increasingly important. Why?
Redefining and Expanding
The days when having just one spokesperson, or one communications director, managing a campaign are over. In today’s complicated world, 24/7 news cycle, social media et al, it takes a team. Political campaigns have become slicker, more immediate. There is more attention being paid to digital output than in the past. The candidates are younger. The electorate is younger. Politics is evolving. We are more sophisticated visually, and we expect a sophisticated visual/digital campaign from the candidates.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Let’s look at Senator Cruz’s team. Back in November 2014, he promoted Amanda Carpenter to communications director. Previously a reporter for the Washington Times, she has worked for Townhall.com and Capitol Hill. Prior to working for Cruz, Carpenter worked for Jim DeMint (R-SC). Cruz also appointed Catherine Frazier Press Secretary. She worked for Rick Perry. Phil Novack, of the mighty Salesforce, was named her Deputy. He worked at various times for Dick DeVos and John Engler. In addition, Cruz named a Digital Director and a Deputy Digital Director; a Deputy Speechwriter, Media Booker, and Press Assistant. In total, a team of seven people.
Seriousness of Purpose
To anyone involved in political public relations, Ted Cruz’ staffing decisions signal a seriousness of purpose and intent. He is taking his campaign communications to a higher level by assembling a team of staffers who are experts in their fields. Cruz is showing the electorate and his party that his approach to campaigning is cutting-edge. We will follow him on his journey as the year winds down to the party’s candidate decision time.
Jeb Bush, who is actively fundraising and traveling the country, has said he will probably announce his candidacy soon. No word yet on his communications pick, but he has hired an Iowa-based strategist, David Kochel, who will likely be his campaign manager.
Marco Rubio is likely to announce his candidacy in Miami on April 13. He has hired Mitt Romney’s former campaign manager, Jim Merrill.
Rand Paul, expected to announce his candidacy on April 7, has hired Bruce Rauner’s former campaign manager, Chip Englander.
Carly Fiorina has said she will more than likely run. She has hired Sarah Isgur Flores, who previously worked for the RNC.
The Obama Legacy
President Barack Obama, elected for the first time in 2008, and subsequently re-elected in 2014, set the bar high for campaign communications. Two communications staffers have become household names, recognized all over the world. David Axelrod and David Plouffe forever changed the way elections are run, and how election messages are disseminated.
As of press time, no Democrats have announced an intent to run. When they do, we will take a look at their communication choices.