The Digital-First Politician

A playbook for politicians who aspires to adapt.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

Are you a digital-first politician?

In public relations, political communication is often referred to as public affairs. But why haven’t more politicians embraced digital-first?

The internet is where most of our opinions are being moulded, debated, and spread throughout the voting population.

So, as we move into the digital age, it begs the question:

Are your local politicians keeping up with the times?

14 Habits for a Digital-First Politician

1. The digital-first politician can speak online with ease. Most politicians are comfortable with speaking at stages, seminars, and rallies. But the digital-first politician just puts up her smartphone in a taxi to speak her heart out—Gary Vaynerchuck-style.

2. The digital-first politician conveys her message online with authentic passion. Most politicians are comfortable turning up the heat when facing an opponent in a debate. But the digital-first politician finds it easier to convey her authentic passion when communicating her message on social media.

3. The digital-first politician has a growing email list of her own. Most politicians strive to appear in contexts where they can reach relevant audiences. But the digital-first politician utilises the sheer power of email marketing.

4. The digital-first politician is constantly battling a stupid majority. Most politicians are looking for ways to engage the public by speaking to issues defined by the mass media. But the digital-first politician will take her fight directly to stupid majorities via social media.

5. The digital-first politician cultivates her unique social media voice. Most politicians use social media as a broadcast medium for generic political content. But the digital-first politician has realised that online followers are actively seeking unique voices and tonalities.

6. The digital-first politician is plugged into online backchannels for support and discussion. Most politicians take to online communication to raise awareness and seek support for their agenda. But the digital-first politician will use the internet as a sounding board to build support in smaller forums and backchannels first.

7. The digital-first politician isn’t afraid to engage in respectful online discussions. Most politicians don’t want the hassle of speaking directly with insignificant people on social media. But the digital-first politician respects the online equivalent of connecting with ‘regular folks’ in the streets, listening to their stories, and shaking their hands.

8. The digital-first politician puts out original, helpful, and actionable content. Most politicians are using the internet to broadcast their messages. But the digital-first politician finds mediocre online content disrespectful to her voters (and a breach of the Follower Contract).

9. The digital-first politician nurtures a personal brand on multiple online platforms. Most politicians think that the choice of channel is their prerogative. But the digital-first politician is mindful of her Surround Message and she embraces that audiences flow freely across online media.

10. The digital-first politician offers a personal online experience. Most politicians treat online communication as a traditional medium like any other. But the digital-first politician will use the internet to convey the sound of her voice, the cadence of her speech, and all other quirks that make her unique.

11. The digital-first politician prioritises her online tribe first. Most politicians think of the internet as a great way to reach new audiences. But the digital-first politician would be focused on inbound signals and her existing online tribe.

12. The digital-first politician always keeps her online presence interesting. Most politicians are looking at what other politicians are doing online. But the digital-first politician would focus on doing the opposite of whatever others are doing (“zigging when others are zagging”).

13. The digital-first politician is thankful for every reason to speak her truth online. Most politicians are afraid of internet trolls, internet hate, and being criticised in general. But the digital-first politician would be thankful and use any critique as a reason to speak on behalf of her agenda.

14. The digital-first politician always uses clear call-to-actions to keep the audience engaged. Most politicians are happy if they get airtime in traditional media. But the digital-first politician would instead focus on providing her online following with a relevant call-to-action.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.



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